CPJ welcomes release of freelance journalist Josh Wolf

New York, April 3, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes today’s news that freelance journalist Josh Wolf, the longest imprisoned journalist in U.S. history, was released from a federal prison in California.

“We’re very relieved by news that Josh Wolf was finally released from federal prison, and we are looking forward to speaking with him,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The prosecution has expended large amounts of time, money, and effort on this case, and we are very concerned about the long-term implications for the press.”

Wolf, 24, had been held at the Federal Detention Center in Dublin, Calif., for 226 days after refusing to turn over unedited footage and to testify to a federal grand jury investigating vandalism to a police car during a July 2005 protest in San Francisco.

Defense lawyer David Greene told The Associated Press today that Wolf posted online the unaired videotape that he had refused to give federal authorities. Greene told the AP that the government, in turn, agreed not to call Wolf to testify before the grand jury. Federal prosecutor Jeffrey Finigan said in court papers today that the government now considers Wolf to have complied with the grand jury subpoena, AP reported.

The deal comes a day after the defense and prosecution met in a private mediation session. Wolf was freed this afternoon after Judge William Alsup approved the deal.

Wolf had filmed an anti-G-8 demonstration with the intention of posting the footage on his Web site, which contains commentary, news, and video clips dating back to January 2005. He posted an edited version of the protest footage and sold portions of the footage to a San Francisco television station.

Last week, CPJ reiterated its call for Wolf’s release after a delegation spoke with him by phone. “No more purpose is served by keeping you in jail,” CPJ Chairman and Wall Street Journal Managing Editor Paul E. Steiger told Wolf during the conversation. Steiger was joined on the conference call by CPJ board member Michael Massing, board member and Oregonian Editor Sandra Mims Rowe, CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon, and CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney.

AUDIO (mp3) : In March 29 interview, Wolf tells CPJ why he chose not to testify