(Freelance journalist and anarchist Josh WolfÂ has refused to turn over videotapes of a protest being investigated by a federal grand jury. Online Journalism Review has written about his case;Â you canÂ read moreÂ in Wikipedia.Â In December IÂ promisedÂ to write about his case every Friday until he is freed.Â Spread the word.Â –Â Tom Abate aka MiniMediaGuy).
Keep your fingers crossed. Josh WolfÂ wasÂ to haveÂ started aÂ mediation Thursday. I may be a bit out of the loop on the outcome as I am attending a conference (New Communications Forum) andÂ preoccupied with that. But after 200 daysÂ this process stikes me as anÂ encouraging signÂ that the government is seeking a way to letÂ Josh free without losing face.
A press release about the mediation issued by Reporters Without Borders saysÂ in part:
“Joseph Spero, the judge named as mediator, should bear in mind that journalists are not meant to be police auxiliaries or informersÂ . . .Â Wolfâ€™s detention has been used to put pressure on him and it is time for it to stop.”
Liz Wolf Spada, who is Josh’s mother, sent out a note “asking you to just keep Josh in (your) thoughts and prayers.”
Amen to that, Liz. Because my own time is short and also because I see no point in beating the government over the head when itÂ may finallyÂ beÂ starting to listen,Â let me close with a few thoughts from Josh Wolf himself. They are culled fromÂ an interview done a few weeks ago byÂ Pacifica radio host Amy Goodman, whoÂ posted a transcript of the interview on her Democracy Now website. HereÂ are twoÂ excerpts:
AMY GOODMAN: Why are you refusing to comply?
JOSH WOLF: Well, there’s a number of reasons. It’s been viewed that the tape is central to the issue, but it’s also the testimony. Essentially, what the government wants me to do, as we can tell, is to identify civil dissidents who were attending this march, who were in mask and clearly did not want to be identified, but whose identities I may know some of, as their contact that Iâ€™ve been following in documenting civil dissent in the San Francisco Bay Area for some two-and-a-half years now.
AMY GOODMAN: Josh, in a January 29th court filing, federal prosecutors said that it’s in your “imagination” that you’re a journalist. . . Your response?
JOSH WOLF: I think it’s a very scary idea that the US Attorney, the Justice Department, the government prosecution feels that they can determine who is and isn’t a journalist. I think that’s the first step towards state-sanctioned journalism, and I think it also is indicative of a world almost a 1984 Orwellian world that I don’t think we want to live in. As far as whether or not Iâ€™m a journalist in my imagination, the New York Times has said Iâ€™m a journalist. The Society of Professional Journalists has awarded me an award as a journalist. Countless media outlets have said Iâ€™m a journalist. So if it’s my imagination and other journalists’ imagination, then who decides what is and isn’t a journalist? The government?
Late Thursday, this message came out from Josh Wolf’s mom:
“Mediation was not successful. Josh is back in jail. That is all I know. Needless to say I am very discouraged . . . Peace, Liz.”