Court documents in the case of the lost iPhone prototype have been unsealed, revealing that Apple itself asked for the search warrant of an online journalist’s home.

The documents, including the search warrant and detective’s affidavit, were made public by a San Mateo judge at the request of CNET and other media organizations. The documents are a unique look into the series of events that led to the raid on Gizmodo editor Jason Chen’s home.

Here are the documents, which reveal new details behind the iPhone 4G saga:

The Warrant and Affidavit

The raid that sparked a media controversy over the rights of bloggers and online journalists started with the affidavit and search warrant embedded above. San Mateo County Detective Matthew Broad requested and was granted a search warrant of Jason Chen’s home. However, Jason Chen and Gizmodo were not the targets of the investigation: Brian Hogan, the 21-year-old who found and sold the iPhone prototype, was.

Here’s the story: On April 20, Detective Broad met with representatives of Apple, including its Director of Information Security Rick Orloff, Bruce Sewell (senior vice president and general counsel), and a member of Apple’s legal representation. They told him that Gray Powell lost a prototype iPhone 4G. (As an aside, this is an important detail: Apple has essentially revealed that the phone is a 4G device.)

After the meeting, the phone appeared on Gizmodo, at which point Apple told the detective that the damage the story inflicted was “huge.” This prompted a series of events that led to the raid at the request of Apple itself.

A great amount of detail is also revealed about how Hogan sold the phone to Gizmodo and how he was eventually caught. Once Hogan realized what he had in his possession, he started shopping it around to other publications in an attempt to spark a bidding war for the phone. In the end, Gawker Media (the parent company of Gizmodo) paid $5,000 for the phone in the form of Treasury Notes. However, the affidavit says that Hogan was paid a total of $8,500 for the phone, more than the $5,000 that Gawker Media claims it paid.

How was Hogan caught? He was turned in by his roommate, Katherine Martinson, who cooperated with authorities in the investigation.

What’s Next?

Now that the documents are out, you can be sure that media organizations (including us) are going to examine the details of this case and try to separate fact from fiction.

The case itself and its many facets continue on, as well. It’s unclear whether the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office violated the California Shield Law by performing a raid on Gizmodo Editor Jason Chen’s home. It’s also unclear whether Brian Hogan, Gawker Media or anybody will be charged in the case. Finally, there’s no telling what Apple will do next. Will it press for charges or will it try to bury the case and move on?

What do you think of the warrant and affidavit? What do you think of the case? Let us know all of your thoughts in the comments.

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Tags: iphone, iphone 4g, iPhone Prototype, judge, law, warrant