Think Secret Gets Pro Bono Legal Help in Apple Lawsuit

A lawyer specializing in freedom of speech and the Internet said Wednesday he will defend free of charge ThinkSecret.com owner Nicholas Ciarelli, who is facing a lawsuit over an article that revealed trade secrets about the Apple Computer Mac mini, the Web site has reported.

The 19-year-old web publisher and Harvard University student will be defended by Terry Gross, of the San Francisco-based firm Gross & Belsky. Mr. Gross said in an interview that Ciarelli and his Web site used proper newsgathering techniques.

"Think Secretis reporting is protected by the First Amendment," Mr. Gross said. "The Supreme Court has said that a journalist cannot be held liable for publishing information that the journalist obtained lawfully. Think Secret has not used any improper newsgathering techniques."

Mr. Gross said he plans to file a motion asking a judge to immediately dismiss the lawsuit.

Apple sued Ciarelli a week after his Web site published an article that revealed details of the US$499 Mac mini. Apple then announced the supposed new CPU on Jan. 11.

Another Think Secret story on Jan. 6 correctly predicted Appleis announcement last week of the $149, 1 gigabyte iPod shuffle digital media device.

Appleis lawsuit alledges ThinkSecret.com "solicited information about unreleased Apple products" and is seeking monetary damages and information about sources used in the story.

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