As expected, Josh Wolf, the video blogger who was jailed after refusing to turn over a film of political protests to a federal grand jury, was released on Friday morning from a federal prison in Dublin, Calif.
"It feels great to be a free man again," he told a crowd at a press conference in San Francisco following his release.
Wolf was jailed on Aug. 1 and denied bail after a judge found him in contempt of court for refusing to testify before a U.S. grand jury and hand over the unpublished video footage he shot during a clash between San Francisco police and anti-G8 protesters in July 2005. But a panel of 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges on Thursday granted him bail while his appeal in the case is being considered, which could take months.
"I hope that the 9th circuit's decision to grant me bail is indicative of the court's outlook that that I should not be held in contempt for asserting my constitutional rights as a journalist before the federal grand jury," he said, according to a copy of his speech posted on his blog. "They've concluded that my appeal is not frivolous or simply for delay, so that's a positive sign, and I have confidence that these vital rights that are, at the core, essential to the practice of journalism will eventually be recognized at the federal level; if not through the courts than at least through Congress."
The case ended up in the feds' hands because federal prosecutors--who among other things want to see if Wolf's footage shows a San Francisco police car being set on fire at the protest--say they have jurisdiction over the case because the car was paid for in part by federal dollars.
Wolf used his blog to thank all his supporters, from his mom and close friends, to those who donated to his defense fund, to his fellow inmates-turned-friends, "and of course, the Academy...all right just kidding on that last one," Wolf wrote.
Wolf said his time behind bars "was actually quite positive" and he "observed a community which is actually one of the healthiest that I have ever lived in." In order to get the inmates' stories out, he plans to start a not-for-profit organization that for now he's calling prisonblogs.net.