Can the Wolf Survive?

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After being jailed for refusing to hand over video he recorded of an anarchist protest, blogger Josh Wolf is free:

In a deal brokered between his lawyers and federal prosecutors, Wolf posted the uncut video of the protest on his site, JoshWolf.net, gave prosecutors a copy, told them he had not witnessed any crimes and was released.

In exchange, prosecutors acceded to Wolf's key contention: that he not be made to appear before a grand jury and identify those on his videotape.

"Journalists absolutely have to remain independent of law enforcement," Wolf told reporters outside the gates of the prison. "Otherwise, people will never trust journalists."

Still, Wolf gave over more than he'd wanted to. This seems like more of a loss than a win for new media freedom of the press.

NEXT: Hope, Experience and North Korea

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  1. These days…I suppose it’s a victory if he doesn’t end up “disappeared” to Guantanamo. I mean, the fact that the government didn’t get everything they wanted and more is cause for celebration.

  2. The forces of free speech and the free press could not have found a less sympathetic character to rally around than Josh Wolf.

  3. BTW, isn’t it “Will the wolf survive?”

  4. I don’t know much about Josh Wolf but this is a sort of interesting case. If I possess video footage of a crime being committed, can I simply declare myself a “journalist” and not have to submit that evidence to the authorities?

    I don’t know if it applies in this case, but certainly we’d agree that the police have a duty to investigate crime and if evidence exists that might help resolve a case they shouldn’t have to ask permission to receieve it from the person who collected it in the first place.

  5. OK, if you are one of the anarchists inovolved, do you file an amicus brief?

    Why or why not?

    I imagine that principled anarchists face a lot of dilemmas.

  6. BTW, isn’t it “Will the wolf survive?”

    You are correct, at least in reference to the great song by Los Lobos. For those of you scoring at home, the album that the track appeared on was entitled “HOW Will The Wolf Survive?” (emphasis added). No doubt the usually musically astute REASON staff (who threw a “Guided by Voices” reference into another post just this morning) regrets the error…

  7. I don’t know if it applies in this case, but certainly we’d agree that the police have a duty to investigate crime and if evidence exists that might help resolve a case they shouldn’t have to ask permission to receieve it from the person who collected it in the first place.

    They also have a “duty” not to trump up “crimes” to harass and intimidate those with political beliefs they don’t agree with. That the Federal government got itself involved with a very tenuous jurisdictional claim makes it seem that more arbitrary and based on an effort to “teach a lesson” to those not down with the Federales “law and order” agenda.

  8. Journalists absolutely have to remain independent of law enforcement,

    If by this he means that journalists should not be subject to the same requirements as the rest of the citizenry, he is dead wrong.

    Otherwise, people will never trust journalists.

    Good one, Josh.

    if evidence exists that might help resolve a case they shouldn’t have to ask permission to receieve it from the person who collected it in the first place

    Actually, they should have to ask permission. From a court. Its in the Constitution.

  9. The government’s jurisdictional theory sounds like utter bunk.

    The feds say they have jurisdiction over the case because the police car is partly U.S. government property since the S.F.P.D. receives federal anti-terrorism money.

    So if I, say, donate money to my local private high school, does that mean each and every desk in the school is partly my property? Can I personally sue a student who scrawls his name in a desk for damaging my property?

  10. Otherwise, people will never trust journalists.

    Hasn’t that horse kinda left the barn?

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