Journalist not forced to give up video
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, June 16, 2006
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A freelance journalist who faced a possible jail sentence for refusing
to surrender video footage of a July 2005 clash between San Francisco
police and anarchist demonstrators was abruptly released from a
subpoena by federal prosecutors Thursday, his lawyer said.
Josh Wolf, 24, was ordered by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in a
closed-door hearing earlier in the day to turn over the video and
answer questions before a federal grand jury investigating the alleged
vandalism of a police car, said attorney Ben Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld said
Wolf was then questioned before the grand jury, and he insisted that he
had a constitutional right to remain silent and to discuss the
questions with his lawyers, and finally was told by a prosecutor,
without explanation, that he was free to go.
There was no comment from the U.S. attorney's office.
This is important, this is urgent. The following post has been copied from the Yahoo Videobloggers Group. One of our own, our kinfolk is about to go to jail because he recorded an event. He is facing contemp of court charges. The feds are bearing down on him and he is not a mainstream media, just a man on purpose and standing by his truth.
You want reality, here it is... this young man is might to go to jail because he is invoking his rights. As a videoblogger, reporter, documentarian he is facing potential jail. Read this, pass it on, visit his site and above all else kick up a fuss because if the come for Josh they will be coming for me week after next and somebody you know a month from now.
Hi, some of you at vloggercon probably saw my presentation/plea for help in publicizing my case involving the federal grand jury who has gone after my footage from a protest that I as a vlog journalist captured in the city of San Francisco on July 8th of 2005.
In February I was subpoenaed by the Federal Grand Jury and commanded to testify and provide my footage from protest that I filmed. This is in an illegal subpoena on several counts including the fact that as a journalist any subpoena needs to be approved by the US Attorney general and it was not. This act by the federal government is an attempt to trump the state protections afforded by journalists such as the California Shield Law which protects me from having to turn over unpublished material in order to preserve the trust relationship between journalists and their subjects.
The Assistant US Attorney has stated that this is a federal matter and thus not protected by the shield law as a San Francisco Police Vehicle was vandalized during the protest that I filmed and as the city receives money from the Federal Government, and some portion of the police car may have been paid for with federal funds, this is,therein, a federal matter. This assertion has huge ramifications for
all journalists both independent and commercial in that it serves to erode all of the protections that journalists have managed to achieve at the state level. After all, to prove that federal money has some indirect role is a rather low barrier to trump these shield laws and the potentialities are absolutely terrifying.
After exhausting my appeals to quash this subpoena, I was served yesterday afternoon with a new order to appear this Thursday. After careful consideration, I have decided that it would go against my journalistic ethics to comply with the demands of the subpoena and will most likely be found in contempt of court for my non-cooperation sometime on Thursday. At that point in time, I will most likely be
taken to jail while we continue to work on the appeals process.
The best tool available to me is that of trying to educate and influence the public opinion about my case, and that's why I am appealing to each of you to cover my situation on your blog or videoblog; the mainstream media does not appear to be all too interested in bringing this issue to light and it is up to us independent voices to help spread the word about my situation.
Beyond that, I think that encouraging people to contact the US Senators in California: Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein. My representative in the House: Nancy Pelosi. State Representative: Mark Leno. The Mayor: Gavin Newsom, the District Attorney Kamela Harris, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors might help to put some
political pressure on this situation and hopefully result in my campaign to protect my journalistic privilege and also lead towards me being released on my own recognizance during my appeal process to the 9th circuit court of appeals.
I am compiling as much information about my case as possible at a website that I have setup at http://joshwolf.net/grandjury/ and the contact info for all of these politicians should be up there at some point by the end of the day.
If you are uncertain how you feel about this issue, or why am I choosing this course of action, please do not hesitate to contact me via e-mail or through the phone. I appreciate any support that you can provide and even if you don't feel comfortable addressing this issue publicly on your blog, a private e-mail would do much to help
my well-being. Please do mention whether I can use your e-mail in the court as an example of public support for this issue.
Thanks for anything you are able to do, it really does mean a lot to me. This past weekend felt like a family reunion for a family I never knew I had. We really are a community and I hope to see this community help rally support when a member of that community, such as myself, is in trouble.
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