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U.S. Blogger Remains Jailed over Videotapes

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U.S. Blogger Remains Jailed over Videotapes


U.S. Blogger Remains Jailed over Videotapes

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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It's not just bloggers overseas doing prison time. Here in the U.S. it's been 212 days and counting since San Francisco blogger Josh Wolf was sent to jail in California for contempt of court. The 24-year-old refused to turn over videotapes of an anti-war protest to a federal grand jury. His case straddles that blurry line between blogging and journalism. No American journalist has ever spent this much time in jail for contempt.

Josh Wolf's father, Len Harrison, has begun a vigil aimed at securing his son's freedom. Mr. Harrison joins us from the street in front of the federal building in San Francisco. Hello, and welcome to the program.

Mr. LEN HARRISON (Father of Josh Wolf): Hi.

YDSTIE: Let's talk about how long Josh is likely to stay in jail. As I understand it, the grand jury's mandate expires in July. Could he be let out of jail then as a result of that expiration?

Mr. HARRISON: Under normal circumstances, yes, when the grand jury expires, they can't hold him. It is possible they could reconvene the grand jury for another session or reconvene it, in which case they could continue to hold him for a maximum time of 18 months.

YDSTIE: Some have speculated that the federal court sees diminishing returns in keeping your son in prison and making him an example. Any thought on that?

Mr. HARRISON: Well, I think that's the function. They want to make him an example, and they chose the wrong boy to make an example of, or maybe I should say the wrong man to make an example of.

YDSTIE: Did you support your son's decision to go to prison rather than turn over the videotapes?

Mr. HARRISON: Most emphatically. If he was going to play with the court, I certainly could not turn over that material if they wanted it. And there was no criminal issues involved here that should be of interest to the federal government. This is really a local matter.

YDSTIE: Well, there have been reports that say your son has the tape of a policeman being attacked during that demonstration and that's why federal authorities are interested in it.

Mr. HARRISON: No, the federal authorities have never made that statement, nor does he have that tape, and he doesn't. A policeman was attacked, or a policeman may have gotten the worse end of an altercation, but Josh wasn't there. He wouldn't shoot that.

The concern that they had was an allegation that somebody had attempted to set a police car on fire because somebody threw some fireworks. It was two days after the Fourth of July or three days after the Fourth of July, and Josh also made the deposition that he does not have any footage of people doing that, either. And in point of fact, the police car in question, which is a San Francisco Police car, not a federal police car, ended up with a broken taillight.

YDSTIE: You're going to spend five days a week on the street in front of the federal building, hoping to speed up the process?

Mr. HARRISON: Yeah, I mean, it could be very interesting if it does go to January. Hopefully, I'll have some other people here with my by that point. I expect him to be out well before then because I think this government will come to its senses.

YDSTIE: Len Harrison is the father of blogger Josh Wolf, who's in jail because he refused to turn over videotapes to a federal court. Mr. Harrison joined us from a spot in front of the federal building in San Francisco, where he's holding a vigil for his son. Thanks very much, Mr. Harrison.

Mr. HARRISON: Thank you.

YDSTIE: More to come on DAY TO DAY.

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