[Ppnews] SF - Journalist Jailed for Resisting Grand Jury

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Aug 2 08:33:38 EDT 2006

For Immediate Release: August 1, 2006
Grand Jury Resistance Project
Contact: Kris Hermes 510-836-0395
http://www.FBIWitchHunt.com / http://www.joshwolf.net/grandjury

Independent Journalist Jailed for Resisting Grand Jury Subpoena
Federal judge denies constitutional arguments -- incarceration based 
on non-existent damage to SFPD vehicle

San Francisco -- Independent journalist Josh Wolf was jailed today 
for refusing to provide video footage to a federal grand jury 
convened in January. U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup denied 
Wolf's First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment arguments, found him 
in civil contempt, and ordered him immediately jailed. Wolf, 24, was 
taken to the Dublin federal detention center, and could remain there 
until July 2007, for the duration of the grand jury.

Wolf was present at, and reporting on, a protest on July 8, 2005, in 
the Mission district against the Group of 8 (G8), meeting in Scotland 
at the time. Numerous witnesses at the demonstration reported that a 
police vehicle was driven into the crowd of protesters. This action 
was followed by two police officers exiting the vehicle and violently 
assaulting multiple people on the street. Assistant U.S. Attorney 
Jeffrey Finigan is supposedly seeking video footage for what the 
government claims is attempted arson on a San Francisco Police 
Department (SFPD) vehicle. However, no damage has ever been reported by SFPD.

"It's outrageous that the court is compelled to jail someone, let 
alone a journalist, over an incident that involved no property damage 
or harm to anyone," said Kris Hermes of the Grand Jury Resistance 
Project (GJRP), a coalition in support of Wolf and activists being 
harassed by the government. "Wolf's incarceration has an undeniable 
chilling effect on his work, the work of other journalists, and 
people wanting to speak out against U.S. policies."

Activists and Lawyers supporting Wolf have contended that this grand 
jury is an attempt to avoid California's strict Reporter Shield Law, 
which protects journalists' files and notes. "Local police could be 
investigating this incident, but they're not," continued Hermes. "the 
federal government absurdly asserts that this incident rises to the 
level of a federal crime because SFPD receives federal funds." 
Although similar shield laws exist in a majority of the state, no 
federal shield law exists to protect reporters.

At the close of today's hearing, Judge Alsup abruptly denied Wolf's 
request for bail. Alsup also denied a motion by Wolf's attorney, Jose 
Luis Fuentes, to stay the incarceration until an attempt to overturn 
the contempt ruling could be heard by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of 
Appeals. Later in the day, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors 
were due to vote on a resolution introduced by Supervisors Ross 
Mirkarimi and Tom Ammiano aimed at "resisting the federal 
government's intervention in the City and County of San Francisco's 
investigation of the July 8th, 2005 G-8 protest and expressing 
support for the California Shield Law." The Supervisors charge that 
the grand jury is an "attempt to circumvent the local judicial 
system," and they opposed federal government intervention in this 
matter. The resolution was sent to committee and will be heard within 
the next two weeks.

Wolf's experience with the federal government and this grand jury is 
not isolated, and comes as dozens of journalists and activists across 
the country are being threatened with indictments and jail time. "The 
U.S. government's harassment of Josh Wolf is part of a broader, 
renewed use of the federal grand jury to suppress dissent," said 
Samantha Levens of the GJRP. In May, Jeff Hogg, a full-time nursing 
student who works with developmentally disabled adults in Eugene, 
Oregon, was jailed for refusing to comply with a federal grand jury 
investigating environmental and animal rights activists. In San 
Francisco, a federal grand jury has recently been reconvened to 
investigate the animal liberation movement. Many activists refused to 
testify for the previous grand jury that expired in May. However, new 
subpoenas to appear in August have been served on multiple animal 
rights activists.

Information compiled by the Grand Jury Resistance Project (GJRP), a 
coalition that provides education on politically motivated attacks by 
government and support to people targeted by these attacks, shows 
that grand juries are currently being used against environmental and 
animal rights activists, as well as groups that have historically 
struggled for self-determination. The GJRP reports that in the past 
year, at least 66 individuals have been subpoenaed and/or indicted in 
Atlanta, Denver, Eugene, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, Tampa, 
FL, and Trenton, NJ. At least fourteen people have refused to 
testify, and some were jailed for contempt. In an affidavit filed in 
connection with the indictment of three environmental activists in 
Auburn, CA, the FBI irrelevantly referenced "anarchists" and 
"anarchism" 26 times.  GJRP believes that the grand jury to which 
Josh Wolf has been subpoenaed is part of the same broad and 
unconstitutional federal investigation into anarchist and antiwar 
activity and other political movements that oppose U.S. policies.

For further information on Josh Wolf and his case: 

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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