Freelance writer to stay in jail until July

A federal appeals court has been condemned for refusing to rehear the case of a freelance writer who was jailed for failing to overturn a video allegedly containing violent acts against police.

Josh Wolf, 24, is likely to stay in prison until the term of the grand jury expires in July, which would make him the longest-incarcerated journalist in American history.

Media freedom groups have condemned the decision not to rehear Wolf’s case, saying the US justice system is guilty of an “absurd inflexibility.”

The blogger, who runs a site – – was sentenced on September 18, after he refused to disclose a video he filmed that depicts G8 rioters apparently firebombing a federal vehicle.

His supporters, like The American Civil Liberties Union, have stressed that if the state of California had tried the freelance then he would have had protection under the ‘shield law.'

However Wolf’s case came before federal judicial authorities solely because a federal vehicle – a police car – was set alight during the anti-capitalist demonstration.

After he was jailed in August, Wolf appealed, forcing a federal appeals court to review whether he was properly held in contempt of court.

According to the New York Times, Wolf’s lawyer tried to argue that “the right of a reporter to conduct legal newsgathering activities without fear” was at issue.

Last Wednesday, the court denied such a petition.

Reporters without Borders responded: “This young blogger does not represent any threat to national security, so keeping him in custody is a completely disproportionate step

The Paris-based group added: “The judges seem to want to teach a lesson to Wolf, a young man whose insolence exasperated them, when their role should have been simply to give the law.”


20th November 2006

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