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Hearing in Federal Court Tuesday, Independent Journalist Faces Jail time

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 10 months ago

For Immediate Release July 31, 2006


Attack on the Free Press Continues


Hearing in Federal Court Tuesday, Independent Journalist Faces Jail time




SAN FRANCISCO - Judge William Alsup may find video journalist Josh Wolf in

contempt Tuesday as Wolf continues to fight a Federal Grand Jury subpoena.

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) believes that the grand jury is being

improperly used to obtain materials that would normally be protected under

California's Reporter Shield Law.




The civil contempt hearing is scheduled for August 1st at 9 a.m. before

Alsup. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote later that day on a

resolution condemning the actions of the Federal Government in the Wolf case

and the NLG will host a press conference at 1 p.m. on the East side of San

Francisco City Hall (Polk Street).




In addition to the National Lawyers Guild, several other organizations have

recently come forward to support Wolf. On July 19, The Society For

Professional Journalists made a donation to Wolf's defense and the French

organization, Reporters Without Borders issued an international press

release this morning, July 31. The ACLU and the Reporters Committee for

Freedom of the Press have both filed amicus curiae on behalf of Wolf.




Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and Tom Ammiano have also introduced Resolution

061086: Resisting the Federal Government's Intervention in a San Francisco

investigation which will be voted on by the Board of Supervisors at the 2PM

meeting on August 1.




The US Attorney's Office, led by Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Finigan, are

attempting to force Wolf to testify before the grand jury and hand over a

video tape of a protest that occurred in San Francisco's Mission District

last July.




The use of federal grand juries to target journalists and political

activists who are critical of the repressive domestic and international

policies of the United States government is an attack on democratic, free

speech activity. The implications of Josh Wolf's case go well beyond a

single journalist or protest. "Like the Judith Miller case or the BALCO

case this is about the government's ability to take an independent and free

press and treat it as an investigatory arm of the government," said Carlos

Villarreal, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco

Bay Area. "The people of California have made it clear through our shield

law that we prefer a free press that doesn't have the government constantly

looking over its shoulder."




California's shield law, according to a recent court decision on the matter,

"is intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news." In that

decision, the California Court of Appeals in San Jose confirmed that the law

protected internet bloggers just as it protected corporate news reporters.

Federal protections are not as strong.




"People protesting or on strike for better wages or marching for amnesty

should feel free to do so in front of journalist's cameras, just as they

should feel free to talk to journalists," said Wolf. "A free press benefits

all of us," he said.




Court documents and past news articles can be found at


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