Josh Wolf, the blogger whose record 7 1/2 months in federal prison fueled debate about who qualifies as a journalist and what legal protections they should get, was freed yesterday after he released video footage sought by prosecutors about an anarchist protest, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Wolf, 24, had been held in contempt by a federal judge last August for defying a grand jury subpoena. His lawyers and prosecutors reached a compromise in a mediation session Monday before a federal magistrate.
Wolf posted the video on his Web site, gave prosecutors a copy, and denied under oath that he knew anything about violent incidents at the July 2005 protest. Prosecutors agreed not to summon him before the grand jury or ask him to identify protesters shown on his video. Prosecutors’ withdrawal of a demand for his testimony was the key to the deal, Wolf said. “Journalists absolutely have to remain independent of law enforcement,” he said. “Otherwise, people will never trust journalists.” Wolf plans to go to Congress and lobby for a shield law that would protect bloggers and independent journalists as well as media employees. “We shouldn’t have government deciding who is or isn’t a journalist,” he said.