Christmas Eve will mark independent journalist Josh Wolf’s125th day behind bars for refusing to testify before a grand jury.
If Wolf remains in prison until Feb. 6, 2007, he will have spent more days in prison for contempt of court than any other journalist in recent American history.
“We’re very disappointed that efforts to free Josh have been unsuccessful,” said Lucy A. Dalglish, Executive Director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “The Reporters Committee will continue to support him until he is released.”
Author and journalist Vanessa Leggett spent 168 days in a Texas prison in 2001. Feb. 6 would be Wolf’s 169th day in a California federal prison.
He has already spent more time in prison than former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who spent 85 days behind bars in 2005.
Wolf was videotaping an anarchist rally in San Francisco in July 2005 when a police officer was injured and a city police car was damaged. He posted parts of the videotape on his weblog and sold portions to local television stations.
In a subpoena requested by the Joint Terrorism Task Force in January 2006, Wolf was ordered to testify before a federal grand jury about the July 2005 demonstration. The subpoena also said that Wolf had to hand over the unaired portions of his videotape.
Wolf refused both demands and was jailed for contempt of court Aug. 1.
Wolf’s lawyers appealed the order of contempt, and he was granted bail Aug. 31 pending a decision by a panel of appeals court judges in San Francisco. The panel affirmed the contempt order and Wolf returned to prison on Sept. 22. The full appeals court refused to review the decision.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Wolf.
Wolf’s mother Liz Wolf-Spada, who plans to visit her son in prison on Christmas Eve, said that this holiday will be “very difficult” for the family.
“Counting the number of days he’s spent in jail means nothing to me,” Wolf-Spada said. “I just want Josh home.”