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Friday, July 09, 2010, 12:55 pm PT (03:55 pm ET)

Nokia turns to Russian police to recover lost prototype smartphone

In a move similar to the ongoing investigation of a "missing" iPhone 4 unit involving Apple and Gizmodo, Nokia has contacted Russian police in an effort to regain a prototype smartphone from a blogger who leaked details of the device.

The Wall Street Journal published a report this week detailing Nokia's attempts to recover a prototype N8 smartphone from Russian blogger Eldar Murtazin. In April, the Moscow-based blogger published a preview on his blog Mobile Review, critiquing the handset a day before Nokia officially announced the device, due to be released in the third quarter of this year.

The Finland-based communications company turned to the police after its requests to Murtazin for the return of the device went unanswered.

According to the Journal, Murtazin claimed in an interview that he "was given the prototype by a source he declined to identify." He has claimed he attempted to contact Nokia in recent months, but no longer has the phone in his possession.

"I can never give back to Nokia anything I don't have," he reportedly said.

The blogger also denied that he had worked as a consultant for Samsung, a claim that Nokia made on its corporate blog. Murtazin said he was "contacted Wednesday by the Russian Interior Ministry's economic-crimes department" and had agreed with officials on Friday.

The incident closely mirrors a recent dispute between Apple and the technology blog Gizmodo over a lost iPhone 4 prototype. In April, Jason Chen, an editor for Gizmodo, published pictures and details confirming the design and specs of the then unreleased iPhone 4.

It was later revealed that the blog, owned by Gawker Media, had paid $5,000 for an exclusive hands-on look at the hardware. A week after the leak, California authorities seized several computers and servers from Chen's residence.

In both the Nokia and Apple incidents, the corporations have publicly highlighted their efforts to retrieve the prototypes and resorted to legal and official channels to continue their quest, while the bloggers assert that they made numerous attempts to return the devices to the companies. Although both investigations are ongoing, they have ignited controversy online and in the press, with many analysts viewing the resolution as having broad implications for journalists and bloggers alike.

Speaking on the Gizmodo incident at the All Things D conference in early June, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said some people advised him to take no action in the incident. But Jobs said he feels as though Apple would not be the same company, and he would not be the same person, if he were to let such incidents occur without recourse. Jobs, at the conference, asserted that the prototype was stolen, and Gizmodo engaged in extortion in returning the device to Apple.

"I thought deeply about this, and I ended up concluding that the worst thing that could possibly happen as we get big and we get a little more influence in the world is if we change our core values and start letting it slide," Jobs said. "I can't do that. I'd rather quit."