Wolf Unleashed After Being Held 31 days for Contempt
September 4, 2006 10:05 PM
Josh Wolf, the freelance journalist who was jailed for not turning over raw video he shot to federal investigators, said his experiences over the past month have been “strange,” yet inspirational.
“When I went in (to jail), I thought about all the positive things I could do,” Wolf, an SF State psychology alumnus, said in a telephone interview.
Wolf, 24, was released on bail last Friday by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. He is appealing his contempt of court sentence over his refusal to cooperate with a federal grand jury investigating the alleged vandalism of a police car during an anti-globalization protest in the Mission District last year.
Wolf said he did not want to compromise the “trust system” between reporters and sources.
“If I was forced to turn over my tape, I would be forced to be an agent for the government. Why would any journalist be comfortable being an agent? Why would any protester feel comfortable talking to a reporter?” Wolf said. “What I was covering was people engaging in a First Amendment activity, the right of free and peaceful assembly.”
Wolf’s incarceration marks the first time a blogger has been held in contempt of court for refusing to provide information to a federal grand jury. He said he was discouraged that his plight was largely ignored by fellow bloggers.
“The mainstream media, the established independent media such as KPFA, picked up on it. It didn’t seem to create a storm on the blogs until I was in prison,” Wolf said. “Some felt, ‘Oh, he doesn’t want to turn over the tape, he just wants to become a famous blogger. I want to be a famous blogger, too.’ Then, they thought ‘Josh is in jail so I don’t have to be.’”
Wolf used his journalistic background to talk to fellow inmates and learn about the correctional
“We have all sorts of embedded reporters in Iraq, but we don’t have any embedded reporters in federal prisons.”
He described the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin as the “most polite place” he’s ever been to.
“It’s not a utopia, but it’s more like a Stalin-esque utopia,” he said. “It’s one of the few places where the guards treat you humanely, from what I’ve heard.”
Spending time in jail inspired Wolf to begin work on a Web site for inmates: Prisonblogs.net.
“One of the most important things I learned is how frustrating it is to not have a way to communicate with people outside your vicinity,” Wolf said.
Since prisoners do not have access to the Internet, Wolf’s site will rely on inmates sending written messages to “sponsors” who will transcribe the messages into blogs. The concept is based on a similar program called Prison Radio.
“There’s no Internet access, but the written word is the written word, whether you type it or write it,” he said.
Wolf is also considering writing a book about the experiences of one of the inmates he met.
A three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will now hear Wolf’s case. If the previous verdict is upheld, Wolf might go back or be placed under house arrest.
Wolf said he is prepared to continue to appeal, if necessary.
“It’s critical that the rights of journalists are upheld,” Wolf said. “I also don’t want to go back to jail. I’m no threat to anyone, why throw me back in jail?”
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University