August 04, 2006

Chronicle reporters may face contempt charges

A dispute between the Justice Department and The Chronicle over the use of grand jury testimony in stories about athletes' steroid use will come to a showdown today in a San Francisco federal courtroom.


On Tuesday, freelance reporter Josh Wolf was found in contempt and sent to prison by U.S. District Judge William Alsup for refusing to turn over to a grand jury the videos he took of an anarchist protest in the Mission District last year. Prosecutors say the grand jury is investigating the alleged attempted arson of a police car. Wolf could remain in prison until next July.

His case differs from the case of the Chronicle reporters in one major respect, as he is not protecting any confidential sources. But Wolf's central argument, which Alsup brushed aside, is the same position taken by the Chronicle reporters: that journalists have at least some degree of constitutional protection from government intrusion that would disrupt newsgathering.



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