Journalist jailed over protest footage
Updated: 2006-08-02 11:12
SAN FRANCISCO - A freelance video journalist was jailed Tuesday for refusing
to give a grand jury his unsold footage from a 2005 protest in which anarchists
were suspected of vandalizing a police car.
journalist, Joshua Wolf, 24, gestures during a rally outside of Federal
Building in San Francisco, July 20, 2006. Wolf was whisked into custody
from a federal courtroom in San Francisco, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2006, for
refusing to hand over to a grand jury his unpublished footage of a July
2005 protest of anarchists suspected of vandalizing a police car.
Joshua Wolf, 24, could remain behind bars until next summer, when the grand
jury investigating the incident is due to expire.
Wolf had sold footage of the protest to San Francisco television stations and
posted it on his Web site. Investigators are seeking portions of his videotape
that haven't been broadcast.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup said there is no federal law shielding
journalists from participating in grand jury investigations. The judge sided
with prosecutors who suspect the footage may reveal who was behind the melee,
part of an anarchist-led protest over the G-8 international economic conference
last year in Scotland. A San Francisco police officer also was injured.
"This is direct evidence of what happened," Alsup said.
Alsup said he wasn't jailing Wolf to punish him. "The purpose of this is to
get you to change your mind," the judge said as U.S. marshals removed Wolf from
Wolf's lawyer, Jose Luis Fuentes, said that relinquishing the footage to a
grand jury would be tantamount to his client becoming "an arm of the
government." Because of the subpoena, Fuentes said, the underground groups Wolf
chronicles are denying him access.
The American Civil Liberties Union said federal authorities are disregarding
California's shield law, which generally allows journalists to decline to
divulge unpublished material to state authorities. That shield, however, does
not attach to federal investigations.
Although the incident involved the San Francisco police, federal authorities
are investigating because the it involves the destruction of federally funded
"We're taking the position that the government hasn't shown it has a
connection to a legitimate federal interest here," ACLU attorney Alan Schlosser
said after the two-hour hearing.