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Freelance journalist Wolf released on bail

For Immediate Release:

Christine Tatum, President, (303) 881-8702, ctatum@spj.org
Beth King, Communications Manager, (317) 927 -8000, ext. 211, bking@spj.org

Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists are pleased that San Francisco freelance video journalist Josh Wolf has been released on bail from a federal jail while an appeals court considers his case.

In recent weeks, SPJ leaders negotiated with Wolf's lawyers, convincing them to cap the 24-year-old's legal fees at $60,000. The Society's board of directors followed up Aug. 23 by agreeing to pay $30,000 of Wolf's legal expenses using SPJ's Legal Defense Fund. Now the Society, among the nation's largest and oldest journalism advocacy organizations, is challenging other journalism groups to raise enough money to cover the rest of Wolf's legal bills.

"We are grateful to Josh for taking a firm stand at tremendous personal cost on an issue that affects all journalists," SPJ President Christine Tatum said. "While Josh's release likely has no bearing on the outcome of his case pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, we're happy he won't have to suffer imprisonment until a decision is made."

Wolf videotaped a July 2005 protest during the G-8 economic summit where anarchists were suspected of vandalizing a city police car and injuring a San Francisco police officer. Wolf rightly declined to give up video of the demonstration to a federal grand jury. His refusal is consistent with SPJ's beliefs that journallists never should become arms of law enforcement.

"If journalists readily give up their notes and video footage, people are far less likely to cooperate in the news-gathering process and we'll all suffer," Tatum said. "We must protect good journalism because an informed public is crucial to self government."

A judge found Wolf in contempt of court and ordered him jailed Aug. 1. Wolf appealed to the 9th Circuit. The case is pending.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.

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