[Ppnews] NLG Condemns Attack on News Gathering

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jun 14 14:47:35 EDT 2006

For Immediate Release June 14, 2006
From: "Carlos Villarreal" <carlos at nlgsf.org>

National Lawyers Guild Condemns Attack on News Gathering
Local Prosecutors Circumvent State Journalist 
Protections With Federal Grand Jury

A federal grand jury continues to target a San 
Francisco independent journalist in an attempt to 
force him to turn over materials that would 
normally be protected by the California’s 
Reporter Shield Law.  A second subpoena was 
issued to Josh Wolf by an agent of the Federal 
Bureau of Investigations this Monday after a 
Federal court denied his request to quash a 
previous, similar subpoena.  He has been ordered 
to testify before the Federal grand jury this 
Thursday at 1:15 p.m. and to produce unpublished 
portions of a videotape documenting a protest 
that occurred in San Francisco’s Mission District last year.

The National Lawyers Guild will host a press 
conference at noon on Thursday, June 15th in 
front of the Federal Building – where the grand 
jury will convene – 450 Golden Gate in San Francisco.

California’s shield law, according to a recent 
court decision on the matter, “is intended to 
protect the gathering and dissemination of 
news.”  In that decision, the California Court of 
Appeals in San Jose confirmed that the law 
protected internet bloggers just as it protected 
corporate news reporters.  Despite the fact that 
local state prosecutors and police are already 
investigating criminal activity related to the 
Mission protest, and that there is cooperation 
between state and federal entities, the federal 
government has successfully argued that the state 
law should not apply.  Federal protections are not as strong.

Attorney Jose Luis Fuentes, of the Oakland based 
Siegel & Yee firm, is representing Wolf.  “My 
client has filmed a lot of political activity and 
free speech activity in the Bay Area as a 
journalist and this subpoena with its associated 
threat of jail time for noncompliance has an 
incredible chilling effect on his and other 
journalist’s freedom to gather and disseminate 
information to the public,” said Fuentes.  Wolf, 
his attorneys and the Bay Area National Lawyers 
Guild (NLG) are alarmed and warn that this 
situation could lead to increased suspicion of 
the media by political activists or a resistance 
to public demonstrations for fear of unfair federal witch hunts.

Wolf also feels, “The ramifications of this case 
could have a deleterious effect on all 
journalists, both independent and those 
associated with the established media, as the 
government’s actions seek to eviscerate the state 
protections afforded to news gatherers under the various state shield laws.”

The NLG is also greatly concerned with the level 
of cooperation seen between San Francisco police 
and prosecutors and the federal 
government.  “Particularly under the Bush 
Administration, with Ashcroft and now Alberto 
Gonzalez, we are seeing much more cooperation 
between the federal government and local 
governments,” said Carlos Villarreal, Executive 
Director of the National Lawyers Guild San 
Francisco Bay Area.  “This grand jury 
investigation shows that greater civil liberty 
protections by states can easily become 
irrelevant when the federal government gets 
involved and local officials show no respect for those civil liberties.”

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