Josh Wolf speaks to the press last September in San Francisco.
Josh Wolf has been in prison for more than 170 days—longer than any other journalist in modern history. The freelance videographer and blogger has been held since he refused to hand over footage of WTO protesters to authorities because, he says, the precedent would make journalists “de facto deputies and investigators” for law enforcement.
Los Angeles Times:
In a statement posted on his blog Tuesday, Wolf—who sold some of his footage to San Francisco television stations—explained his decision not to comply with the grand jury’s request.
“If the U.S. attorney can compel journalists to testify about what they’ve learned through their work and to force them to turn over their unpublished materials, then not only will the public be unable to trust reporters, but journalists themselves will become de facto deputies and investigators,” read the message attributed to Wolf at joshwolf.net.
Supporters contend that his case is similar to that of two San Francisco Chronicle reporters, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, who face up to 18 months in federal prison for refusing to cooperate with subpoenas to name their confidential sources for leaked grand jury testimony about steroid use in major league baseball. Last month, two congressmen called on Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales to withdraw those subpoenas.
California, like several other states, has a shield law that protects journalists employed by news organizations from having to disclose unnamed sources or produce unpublished materials. That state law does not apply to Wolf, however, because his case is being tried in federal court.