Judicial mediation due to start
on eve of Josh Wolf's 200th day in federal prison
Journalist Josh Wolf
From Reporters Without Borders
March 8, 2007
Borders today applauded the fact that judicial mediation will
start today in the case of jailed freelance video journalist and
blogger Josh Wolf, and that this could lead to his release.
On March 10, Wolf is due to complete his 200th day in a federal
prison in Dublin, California, for refusing to surrender his unedited
video to a federal grand jury investigation.
"Such mediation is unprecedented in this kind of press case
and ought to be used to redress a flagrant miscarriage of justice,
however belatedly," the press freedom organization said.
"Joseph Spero, the judge named as mediator, should bear
in mind that journalists are not meant to be police auxiliaries
or informers and their role as news providers gives them the right
to protect the confidentiality of their sources and material.
Wolf's detention has been used to put pressure on him, it hasn't
worked and it is time for it to stop."
The case goes back to 2005, when Wolf filmed a protest in San
Francisco against a G8 summit.
After refusing to comply with a federal subpoena to hand over
his unedited video and testify to a grand jury investigation into
an attack on a police car during the demonstration, Wolf was found
in contempt of court and was initially imprisoned from August
1 to September 1 2006.
He was sent back to Dublin prison, near San Francisco, on September
20 after judges rejected an appeal. In all, he will have spent
200 days in prison on March 10.
William Alsup, the federal judge who imprisoned Wolf, finally
ordered judicial mediation on February 14 and assigned the job
to Judge Spero.
The right of journalists to professional confidentiality is recognised
by 33 states of the union. The house of representatives of the
state of Washington unanimously passed a "shield law"
of this nature on February 16. Other shield laws are being debated
by the states of Missouri, Utah, Massachusetts and Texas.
Reporters Without Borders wants similar legislation to be adopted
by the federal congress.
Editor's Note: Wolf's legal team will be holding
a news conference today at 2 p.m. in the plaza area in front of
the San Francisco federal building.