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Josh Wolf Update: Josh Released on Bail!
1) Josh Released on Bail!
For Immediate Release August 31, 2006
Ninth Circuit Grants Bail for Jailed Journalist Josh Wolf
Lawyers Guild Hopeful, Strong Free Speech Decision Possible
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted bail today to
Josh Wolf - the independent journalist and blogger who was jailed August 1st
for refusing to turn over video footage to a federal grand jury.
Since Wolf's jailing a number of organizations besides the National Lawyers
Guild have voiced support for Wolf and condemnation of the Federal
Government. This month the Society For Professional Journalists made a
donation of $30,000 to his defense. The ACLU and the Reporters Committee for
Freedom of the Press have both filed amicus curiae on behalf of Wolf. The
San Francisco Board of Supervisors, led by Ross Mirkarimi and Tom Ammiano,
also adopted a resolution this month urging the passage of a Federal Shield
Law and condemning the federal government's actions in the Wolf case. The
resolution charges that the grand jury is an "attempt to circumvent the
local judicial system," since the crime being investigated involves an
alleged attack on a San Francisco police car.
"This provides some vindication and we are cautiously optimistic about what
the Ninth Circuit will ultimately decide," said Carlos Villarreal, Executive
Director of the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area. "We are
hopeful that the justices are going to consider the importance of a free and
independent media, especially when journalists are covering free speech
Josh Wolf was ordered in contempt by Federal Judge William Alsup on August
1st. The US Attorney's Office, led by Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey
Finigan, wants Wolf to testify before a federal grand jury and hand over a
video tape of a protest that occurred in San Francisco's Mission District
Court documents and past news articles can be found at
2) Josh resumes blogging and announces prisonblogs.net
My speech from Yesterday’s press conference
Thanks for coming out today! It feels great to be a free man again and I hope that the 9th circuit’s decision to grant me bail is indicative of the court’s outlook that that I should not be held in contempt for asserting my constitutional rights as a journalist before the Federal grand jury. They’ve concluded that my appeal is not frivolous or simply for delay, so that’s a positive sign, and I have confidence that these vital rights that are, at the core, essential to the practice of journalism will eventually be recognized at the Federal level; if not through the courts than at least through congress.
As the late Senator Paul Wellstone once said, “Significant social change comes from the bottom up, from an aroused opinion that forces our ruling institutions to do the right thing.” I think that history demonstrates this to be true and it is an honor that I’ve been given the opportunity to help ignite what I hope will eventually cement the rights of both the independent and the established media.
It should come as no surprise that I felt pressured from many people to comply with the US Attorney’s demands and although the support I’ve received has been incredible and have received many wonderful letters while I was incarcerated – there were times that I did feel alone in my struggle. Many people simply could not understand why I refused to yield in the face of being sent to prison; I realize that there are those who will never understand but this quote from Naton Scharansky, a man who fought valiantly for civil liberties inside the Soviet Union describes my own motivations beautifully and I’d like to share it with you in the hopes that it will help some people to see my perspective. It reads,
“In addition to Newton’s law on the Universal gravity of objects, there is also a law of the universal gravity of souls, of the bond between them and the influence of one soul on the other. And it operates in this manner, such that with each word that we speak, and with each step that we take, we touch other souls and have an impact upon them. So why should I put this sin on my soul? If I already succeeded once in breaking with the difficult two-faced approach called for by this intolerable situation, closing the gap between thought and word, how is it possible to take even one step backwards towards the previous status?”
I’m sure that many of you are curious about my experiences being imprisoned in Dublin; I have been very fortunate and much of my time incarcerated was actually quite positive. While locked up, I met many fellow prisoners who are truly stellar individuals and a observed a community which is actually one of the healthiest that I have ever lived in. To my friends in Unit J2, thanks for everything and I wish you all the best of luck.
In an effort to help get the stories of those incarcerated out into the world, I have started to develop a not-for-profit organization which will be known, for now, as prisonblogs.net – the project is dedicated to giving a voice to the voiceless, and is something that I am very excited about. Expect more details about this initiative in the coming weeks.
Once again, I’d like to thank you all for coming out, and to thank everyone who has been there to support me in any way; you all made it a lot easier to get through this and I will be eternally grateful. Thanks.
3) Continued support for Josh and others
Josh still needs your support. While he is currently out on bail we are still awaiting a decision on the appeal of Josh's contempt charge from the 9th circuit court. Supporters are encouraged to continue organizing around Josh's case, continued public pressure is essential in the days leading up to the 9th circuit court's decision.
Supporters are also encouraged to continue writing to Josh's fellow inmates who are still incarcerated at FCI Dublin. Their contact information will remain posted to his wiki until further notice.
Also encouraged is support for fellow grand jury resister Jeff Hogg. On May 18th Jeff was held in contempt by a grand jury investigating eco-sabotage and is currently in prison. Updates on his case will also be posted on Josh's wiki until further notice.
The best place to get continued updates on Josh case is his legal support email list.
You can join here: http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/supportjoshwolf
Thank you for your support!