San Francisco, California, US - Freelance video journalist, Josh Wolf, was jailed today after refusing to surrender footage of a July 2005 clash between San Francisco police and anarchist demonstrators. U.S. District Judge William Alsup found Wolf, 24, in contempt of court for failing to comply with a subpoena that the grand jury issued in February. An edited version of the tape in question was sold to local news channels and posted on Wolf's own website.
Prosecutors claim that the tape might help them determine which of the demonstrators is responsible for burning a police cruiser. A police officer was also seriously injured during the protest but that offense is out of the jurisdiction of federal prosecutors.
Wolf could remain behind bars until next July, when the grand jury's term expires. Alsup denied his requests for bail or for a 10-day stay while he asks the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the contempt order.
Civil liberties and journalist groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Reporters Without Borders, and the National Lawyers Guild have condemned the U.S. Attorney's office for misusing the grand jury. Prior to today's court hearing Wolf said that he was "prepared to go to jail,'' and that surrendering the videos would turn him into "a surveillance camera for the government.''