On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ordered the emergency release of the two leaders of the election integrity group True the Vote who were thrown in jail last month for refusing to give up the name of one of their confidential sources. Their source allegedly provided them with proof that the scandal-plagued election software company Konnech had compromised and stored American data in China.
The newly liberated duo indicated that they will "continue to protect and defend those who do the vital work of election integrity, and ... will make sure that their findings become a matter of public record."
Konnech is an election software company based in Michigan. It licenses election software still utilized by various municipalities and counties across America.
Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of True the Vote, and Gregg Phillips, a board member, claimed that Konnech was "owned by the Chinese Communist Party" and involved in the "subversion of our elections."
Eugene Yu, the founder and CEO of Konnech, was arrested on Oct. 4 and charged on suspicion of data theft, having allegedly stored "critical information that [US election] workers provided on servers in China."
Yu was also charged with grand theft by embezzlement of funds exceeding $2.6 million.
According to prosecutor Eric Neff, the crimes allegedly committed by Konnech amount to the "largest data breach in United States history."
In response to Engelbrecht and Phillips' claims that Konnech had done what it has now been charged with doing, the Michigan-based company filed a defamation lawsuit against True the Vote on Sept. 12, suggesting that the duo's accusations of wrongdoing were damaging.
In the subsequent proceedings, Konnech demanded that the True the Vote leaders provide the names of anyone who may have been involved in their efforts to expose the company for its alleged malfeasance.
Konnech successfully obtained a restraining order to that effect, which Judge Hoyt found the duo in contempt of on Oct. 27.
After being found in contempt, Phillips wrote on Truth Social, "Doing the right thing isn't always easy but it's always right. We were held in contempt of court because we refused to burn a confidential informant or our researchers. We go to jail on Monday unless we comply."
In an Oct. 28 post, Phillips complimented Engelbrecht, writing that despite being ridiculed by Konnech's lawyers, "She answered with confidence and pride in her Country. She didn't buckle. She stood against the abuse and the oppressors. I'm so proud to be her friend, her colleague, and her brother in Christ."
The True the Vote account posted on the eve of the duo's arrest that if Engelbrecht and Phillips were ultimately arrested, "We won't be gone forever."
Federal Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt had Engelbrecht and Phillips imprisoned on Oct. 31 after both election integrity activists followed through on their refusal the previous week to give up the name of an individual they allege is a confidential FBI informant.
The duo was marched out of court by U.S. Marshals.
Engelbrecht and Phillips were to remain in jail until they "fully compl[ied]," providing the court with the identities of their contacts.
On Nov. 3, the duo filed an application for mandamus seeking relief from the order of detention, in which they contended "the district court's order represents a clear abuse of discretion and a manifest miscarriage of justice."
The motion characterized Hoyt's order as "draconian" and noted that the duo's "continued detention has caused them personal and professional harm. Continued detention by its very nature is irreparable."
According to court documents obtained by Just the News, a panel of three Republican-appointed Fifth Circuit judges (i.e., Judges Catharina Haynes, Kurt Engelhardt, and Andrew Oldham) ordered Engelbrecht and Phillips to be released.
On Sunday, Engelbrecht issued a statement about her then-forthcoming release from prison: "Those who thought that imprisoning Gregg and I would weaken our resolve have gravely miscalculated. It is stronger than ever."
"The right to free and fair elections without interference is more important than our own discomforts and even this detention, now reversed by a higher court," wrote Engelbrecht.
Engelbrecht wrote on Truth Social Monday afternoon, "We're out. Gregg and I are incredibly grateful for everyone’s prayers and support. I’ll say this, what is publicly known is just the tip of the iceberg. Please stay connected. We’re all in this together. Hold the line. Keep the faith. God is good."
After being sprung from jail, Phillips wrote, "These are the days of the patriot games."
Phillips had previously suggested that "it's 1984 in America."
The duo is now free, but their fates remain uncertain. Konnech, on the other hand, will have its Chinese links further explored and its CEO appear in court on Nov. 17.