August 26, 2006

Society of Professional Journalists gives $30,000 for defense of jailed video journalist

The Society of Professional Journalists has donated $30,000 to help pay legal fees for a freelance video journalist jailed after he refused to give a grand jury footage of a protest in San Francisco, the group said Friday.

SPJ's board of directors, meeting in Chicago for its national convention, voted 23-0 to award the grant to Joshua Wolf.

"This case is evidence of a disturbing trend in which federal prosecutors are attempting to turn journalists into arms of law enforcement," SPJ President David Carlson said in a statement. "It cannot be allowed to continue."

Wolf, 24, videotaped a July 2005 protest at the G-8 economic summit where anarchists were suspected of vandalizing a city police car. One San Francisco officer was struck during the rally and sustained a fractured skull.

Wolf declined to turn over to a federal grand jury complete tapes of the demonstration, which authorities said might help identify people who committed crimes. He was found in civil contempt and sent to a federal prison in Dublin, Calif., on Aug. 1. He could stay there until the grand jury's tenure expires in July.

The Indianapolis-based SPJ already has given Wolf $1,000. The group said he will need $60,000 to pay his legal bills.


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