Videoblogger Josh Wolf released on bail from Bay Area jail

August 31, 2006 – 5:09 pm

Videoblogger and freelance journalist Josh Wolf was granted bail by a federal appeals court today. He’s been in jail since August 1 for refusing to comply with government demands that he hand over video he shot at a political protest in San Francisco last year (earlier BB posts: 1, 2, 3).

In granting bail, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the government had not shown that Wolf’s appeal of a contempt-of-court ruling was frivolous or filed with the sole purpose of delaying proceedings. Snip from a report by Bob Egelko at the SF Chronicle:

The court said another panel would rule on Wolf’s appeal of the contempt order while he is free on bail. If he loses the appeal, he could be sent back to federal prison until the grand jury’s term expires next July. Wolf’s attorney said he would be released on his own recognizance, possibly later today.

Wolf, 24, took videos of a July 2005 anarchist demonstration in San Francisco’s Mission District against an economic summit that was taking place in Scotland. During the protest, a policeman was hit on the head and suffered a fractured skull. A federal grand jury is investigating the alleged attempted burning of a police car, which federal prosecutors say would be a federal crime because the police department receives federal funds.

Some of Wolf’s footage was shown on local television, but he refused to surrender his outtakes, claiming a journalist’s right to withhold unpublished material as well as confidential sources. Those rights are protected by California’s shield law, but it does not apply in federal court. U.S. District Judge William Alsup rejected Wolf’s constitutional defenses, denied bail and ordered him jailed until he agreed to turn over the videos.

His appeal was endorsed by numerous news organizations and by the Society of Professional Journalists, which contributed $31,000 to defray his legal expenses.

Link to story. Photo: National Lawyers Guild. (Thanks, Violet Blue)

# Blogger jailed for refusing to hand over video

# Videoblogger’s protest footage demanded by FBI
# Free Josh Wolf: update on jailed San Francisco blogger

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