Christine Tatum, President, (303) 881-8702
Beth King, Communications Manager, (317) 927 -8000, ext. 211
INDIANAPOLIS – Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists are pleased that San Francisco freelance video journalist Josh Wolf has been released from a federal jail.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup signed an order releasing Wolf, who was incarcerated for 226 days for refusing to comply with a federal subpoena that would have forced him to turn over unedited footage from a G-8 Summit protest he filmed July 8, 2005 in San Francisco’s Mission District.
“I am delighted that Josh Wolf is on his way home,” said Christine Tatum, President of the Society of Professional Journalists. “He deserves profound respect for enduring imprisonment to protect journalism. Josh has rightly insisted that journalists should not be considered arms of law enforcement.”
Wolf has posted to his Web site -www.joshwolf.net - all of the previously unreleased video, including footage that shows a police officer being hurt. In light of the footage being made public, prosecutors told Wolf they will not compel him to testify before a grand jury.
According to his lawyer, Josh's official statement is: “The government met Mr. Wolf's demands: release him without appearing before the Grand Jury and without having to testify as to the events or participants at the demonstration.”
“Josh has fought valiantly for good journalism, which is at the heart of this nation’s democracy,” Tatum continued. “Sadly, there are no real winners here. Josh has avoided testimony, but his video footage is now public. Overzealous federal prosecutors forced the release of a journalist’s work product, and, in the process, have damaged a free press and the public’s ability to shed light on important issues without fear of retribution.”
“Many people may laugh at the notion that journalists work hard every day to minimize harm to their subjects -- but it's true. Good journalists are aggressive, but they also demonstrate tremendous discretion and restraint. Their cameras, computers and notebooks often contain far more information than they deem appropriate to release to the public. Lawyers who subpoena that information consistently demonstrate a lack of respect for professional and personal lives that could be harmed unnecessarily by publicizing a journalist's work product.”
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.