[Sfbay-video] 2 More Articles on San Francisco Video Journalist

a. mark liiv mark at whisperedmedia.org
Tue Aug 1 20:37:21 PDT 2006



Josh Wolf Jailed For Refusal to Hand Over Video of Protest
Tue Jul 18 2006 (Modified 08/01/06) Josh Wolf Charged With Civil 
Contempt for Refusal to Hand Over Video of Protest
Josh Wolf was taken into custody today after a 9am court hearing on 
August 1st. He was found to be in contempt for exercising his first 
amendment rights and refusing to provide a federal grand jury with 
video footage he shot at the SF G8 protest last summer. He could be 
held until the grand jury expires next July. The Society of 
Professional Journalists has published a statement in support of Josh.

A press conference was held outside of City Hall at 1pm, and at 
2:00pm, the SF Board of Supervisors was to vote on a resolution in 
support of Josh's case. Read more

It had widely been feared that Josh would be taken into custody 
during his July 20th court date, but the case was continued until 
August 1st. The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) believes that the grand 
jury is being improperly used to obtain materials which would 
normally be protected under California's Reporter Shield Law. 
Statement from the National Lawyers Guild

The US Attorney's Office is trying to force Josh Wolf to testify 
before the grand jury and hand over a video tape of a protest that 
occurred in San Francisco's Mission District last July. "My client's 
political activity and free speech activity in the Bay Area as a 
journalist and this subpoena, with its associated threat of jail time 
for noncompliance, has an incredible chilling effect on his and other 
journalist's freedom to gather and disseminate information of groups 
who espouse dissident beliefs," said his attorney. California's 
shield law, according to a recent court decision on the matter, "is 
intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news." In that 
decision, the California Court of Appeals in San Jose confirmed that 
the law protected internet bloggers just as it protected corporate 
news reporters. Federal protections, however, are not as strong.

The Grand Jury Resistance Project reports that if Josh is convicted 
on these civil contempt charges, he could be jailed for up to 13 
months. The GJRP believes that the grand jury to which Josh Wolf has 
been subpoenaed is part of a series of broad and unconstitutional 
federal investigations into anarchist and antiwar activity and other 
political movements that oppose U.S. policies. Most recently, they 
also called for the public to show support on August 1st.

Interview with Josh Wolf | Indybay's Past Coverage of Josh Wolf's 
case | Court documents and past news articles on Josh's website

SF Chronicle:


Journalist jailed for refusing to give up tapes of protest

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Josh Wolf is the freelance journalist who was jailed Tues...

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(08-01) 12:59 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- A freelance journalist was jailed 
today for refusing to give videotapes to a federal grand jury that 
show an anarchist protest in San Francisco in which a police car was 
allegedly set on fire.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup found Josh Wolf in contempt of 
court for failing to comply with a subpoena that the grand jury 
issued in February for tapes Wolf made of the July 2005 demonstration 
in the Mission District. Wolf posted some of the videos on his Web 
site -- thisrevolution.blogspot.com/2006/07/1-year-ago.html -- and 
sold that footage to local television stations. Federal prosecutors 
demanded the rest of the tapes, saying they might contain evidence of 
attempted arson.

Prosecutors contend that burning a police car is a federal crime 
because the San Francisco Police Department receives federal funds. 
Wolf and his lawyers accuse the government of manipulating the case 
to sidestep California's shield law, which allows journalists to 
withhold unpublished material and confidential sources from 
prosecutors. There is no federal shield law, and the state law does 
not apply in federal court.

Wolf, 24, could be jailed until next July, when the grand jury's term 
expires. Alsup denied his requests for bail or for a 10-day stay 
while he asks the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the 
contempt order.

The case is "a slam dunk for the government,'' the judge said at the 
end of a 2 1/2 - hour hearing. Noting that the events Wolf 
photographed took place in public and involved no confidential 
sources, Alsup said there was a "legitimate need for law enforcement 
to have direct images of who was doing what to that police car.''

"Every person, from the president of the United States down to you 
and me, has to give information to the grand jury if the grand jury 
wants it,'' Alsup said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Finigan told the judge that Wolf was 
"placing himself above every other citizen in our society'' by 
defying the grand jury. Finigan said the subpoena had been approved 
by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, as provided by Justice 
Department guidelines in cases against journalists.

Wolf's lawyer, Jose Luis Fuentes, argued that requiring journalists 
to surrender unpublished material, whether in the form of notes or 
unseen videos, would hinder their newsgathering ability and make 
their sources less likely to trust them. He urged Alsup to look at 
the videos Wolf was withholding and decide whether the government had 
a legitimate need for them.

The judge refused, saying Fuentes should have submitted them during 
the previous months of briefings and hearings.

Unless a journalist's right to withhold such material is recognized, 
"we're not going to have Mr. Wolf or any reporters covering 
protests,'' Fuentes told Alsup. "Confidential sources are not going 
to come forward. They're (journalists) going to be viewed as 
investigative arms of the government.''

The hearing took place three days before another judge is scheduled 
to consider the Justice Department's request for contempt-of-court 
orders against two Chronicle reporters, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance 
Williams, for refusing to reveal their confidential sources of grand 
jury testimony. The reporters published articles and a book about 
steroids in sports, based in part on closed-door testimony by the 
Giants' Barry Bonds and other prominent athletes.

E-mail Bob Egelko at begelko at sfchronicle.com.

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