Alsup denies Josh Wolf's renewed bid for release
Josh Wolf remains in federal prison today following U.S. District
Judge William Alsup's denial of a renewed bid for his release.
Wolf was ordered jailed August 1, 2006 by Alsup for refusing to
turn over videotape of a San Francisco G-8 demonstration turned
melee in 2005 to a federal grand jury.
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
January 31, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - A freelance journalist who has
been in prison for more than five months for refusing to give
a videotape to a grand jury lost a renewed bid for release yesterday.
Josh Wolf, 24, will have been jailed for civil contempt of court
longer than any other journalist in U.S. history as of Feb. 6.
In a motion filed in San Francisco last week, he asked U.S. District
Judge William Alsup to release him from the Federal Correctional
Institution in Dublin on the ground that he will never comply
with the grand jury's request, no matter how long he is confined.
Alsup turned down the request in a one-paragraph ruling, saying
that suggestions of compromise by one of Wolf's lawyers reveal
"a realistic possibility that Mr. Wolf's confinement may
be having its coercive effect."
U.S. District Judge William Alsup
Alsup said he agreed with U.S. prosecutors' argument that continued
imprisonment may force Wolf to comply with the federal grand jury's
Pondra Perkins, one of Wolf's lawyers, said the attorneys need
to confer with their client and have not decided on their next
steps in the case.
Perkins said the suggestions referred to by the judge, which
were made by attorney Martin Garbus, were merely "exploratory
questions to present options to the client" and were taken
out of context.
The federal grand jury is seeking unaired sections of a videotape
Wolf made of an anarchist demonstration in San Francisco on July
8, 2005, in which a police officer was injured. The panel is investigating
a possible attempted arson of a police car that was partly paid
for with federal funds.
Wolf contends that handing over the tape would make him into
a spy for the government and impede his ability to work as a journalist.
He told the judge in a statement filed with his request on Jan.
22 that complying with the subpoena "would obliterate my
credibility as a reporter."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Finigan said in a brief filed
Monday that Garbus's suggestions included a proposal that Wolf
could hand over the tape but not identify individual demonstrators.
Finigan argued that those suggestions and the possibility of
an additional year in prison were both reasons for concluding
that continued imprisonment might lead Wolf to comply with the
The federal attorney wrote that Wolf could be kept in prison
until the grand jury's term expires in July and possibly for an
additional six months if the term is extended.
Wolf was found in contempt of court and ordered
to prison by Alsup on Aug. 1. He was jailed at the Dublin
facility 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.
The 2005 demonstration was a protest of an economic summit in
Scotland. Wolf sold some parts of the videotape to local television
stations and posted some sections on his Web site.
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