A California journalist was nearing the record for the longest time a reporter has been imprisoned in the US for protecting sources, campaigners said on Tuesday.
Josh Wolf, 24, was jailed last year after refusing to hand over footage he had shot of an anti-capitalist demonstration in San Francisco in 2005, and has now spent 168 days in prison for refusing to comply with the court demand.
Julian Davis, of the Free Josh Wolf Coalition, said that the journalist would pass the new record at midnight on Tuesday, entering his 169th day in detention.
Wolf's continued incarceration was condemned by domestic and international press associations on Tuesday.
"Keeping Wolf in jail is absurd and cruel," said Lucie Morillon, Washington director at Reporters Without Borders.
"It is a bad signal sent to the rest of the world. We would have expected a democratic country such as the United States to put the bar higher regarding press freedom," she added.
Jerry Zremski, president of the National Press Club, said Wolf's plight highlighted an alarming trend by prosecutors seeking to bolster their cases by coercing testimony from journalists.
"Josh is fighting a brave battle that an increasing number of journalists in the US are facing today," Zremski said. "Chillingly, many journalists must battle to keep their reporting from becoming a tool that prosecutors can use to further their cases," he said.
Wolf's footage was of a protest in 2005 in which a police officer was injured and squad car damaged by an explosive device, media reports have said.
Wolf sold the film to a nightly news program. The broadcast was spotted by local and federal law enforcement agents who subpoenaed the independent journalist to release unpublished footage. When Wolf refused to comply with the demand he was charged with contempt of court and imprisoned.
The previous record for a US journalist jailed for protecting her sources was held by Vanessa Leggett, who was incarcerated for 168 days in 2001 and 2002 over information related to a murder case.