Alsup denies Thanksgiving release for Josh Wolf
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
November 21, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - A jailed journalist's bid for a
Thanksgiving furlough from his contempt-of-court imprisonment
was denied by a federal judge in San Francisco today.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup turned down the request by
video journalist Josh Wolf, 24, in a one-sentence written ruling
issued this afternoon about an hour after he held a hearing on
U.S. District Judge William Alsup
Photo courtesy Ninth
The judge wrote, "Assuming the court has jurisdiction, which
is not entirely clear, the court finds that the request for a
Thanksgiving holiday from confinement is not warranted."
Wolf has been imprisoned at the Federal Correctional Institution
in Dublin for three months on Alsup's order for being in contempt
of court in refusing to give a federal grand jury unaired sections
of a videotape of an anarchist demonstration in San Francisco
Wolf contends that handing over the tapes would make
him into a spy for the government and impede his ability to
work as a journalist.
He had asked for a temporary release to spend the Thanksgiving
weekend with his parents in Southern California.
Earlier, at the close of today's hearing and before issuing the
ruling, the judge told Wolf, "I hope you'll take to heart
that judges, no matter how sympathetic they may be to you, are
sworn to uphold the law."
The judge said, "Consider that this great country that has
allowed you to be a journalist sometimes asks for something back."
Wolf, who attended the hearing in prison garb, conferred with
his attorney, Dan Siegel, during the session but made no comments
Siegel argued during the hearing that Alsup has the authority
to be flexible in the sanctions he selects for the contempt of
The attorney said, "You have the discretion to give this
young man a break.
"Our request to the court is to exercise compassion to allow
him to spend time with his mother, grandfather and family over
the holidays," Siegel said.
Attorney Dan Siegel
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Finigan countered that it would
be "contrary to the whole purpose of contempt to allow people
to get out like this."
The grand jury is investigating a possible attempted arson of
a police car during the July 8, 2005, demonstration, which was
a protest of an economic summit in Scotland. The car was partly
paid for with federal funds.
Wolf sold some parts of the videotape to local television stations
and posted some sections on his Web site.
He could be kept in prison until the grand jury's term expires
He was incarcerated in the Dublin prison from Aug. 1 to Sept.
1, was freed for three weeks during an unsuccessful appeal and
then was imprisoned again from Sept. 22 until the present.
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