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Konnech withdraws defamation lawsuit against watchdog group that accused it of subverting US elections with Chinese communists

Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

An election software company based in Michigan sued an election integrity watchdog group and its leaders last year for defamation over claims it had conspired with the Chinese Communist Party and subverted American elections.

After months of denial and litigation, the company has withdrawn it suit.

What's the background?

Konnech is an election software company based in Michigan. It licenses election software utilized by various municipalities and counties across America.

TheBlaze previously reported that 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 [U.S. 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 amounted to the "largest data breach in United States history."

The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office dropped the charges in November, citing "potential bias" in the investigation.

The alleged bias was in reference to the nature of the complaint that first prompted prosecutors to take a hard look at Konnech. According to the DAO, the complainant was Gregg Phillips of the Texas-based voter integrity group True the Vote.

Konnech had sued Phillips and True the Vote's founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, for defamation prior to Yu's arrest.

Engelbrecht and Phillips claimed "Konnech, its founder, and employees are 'Chinese operatives,' who are spearheading a 'Red Chinese communist op against the United States,' that Konnech is tired to the Confucius Institute,' ... that Konnech obtained contracts with certain U.S. city and county voting districts after bribing public officials, and that the Chinese Communist Party is somehow controlling elections through Konnech," according to the Sept. 12 suit.

The Houston Chronicle reported that the lawsuit also responded to the accusation that Konnech had enabled Chinese state actors to access a server in China that contained sensitive personal information belonging to over 2 million U.S. election workers.

Konnech backs off

Lawyers for Konnech contacted True the Vote on April 18 indicating that the company was dropping its suit, then asked the federal judge who had replaced former presiding Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt to dismiss the case "without prejudice" the following day.

Uncover DC indicated that the withdrawal took place one day after the Engelbrecht and Phillips launched Open.Ink, an indexed repository of historical and national security documents for citizen journals, which includes a special collection of Konnech documents.

Following the withdrawal, True the Vote stated, "Konnech's litigation was meritless and intended to harass this organization. They have failed."

The group indicated it is now "evaluating our options with regard to holding them accountable for their unwarranted actions. We believe Konnech dismissed its lawsuit because it saw that it would lose."

Engelbrecht said in a statement, "Konnech's aggressive litigation to shut down all conversation about their activities resulted in the wrongful imprisonment of Gregg Phillips and me. It required the intervention of a higher court to release us. We are more dedicated than ever to our mission of fostering a public conversation about voting integrity."

Former presiding Judge Hoyt had both Engelbrecht and Phillips thrown in jail on Oct. 31 after they refused to give up the name of one of their confidential sources as the defamation case unfolded. Their source had reportedly provided them with proof that the scandal-plagued election software company Konnech had compromised and stored American data in China.

Hoyt ultimately recused himself from the case in February.

"This was an unfounded defamation and unlawful computer access case that saw us strip-searched and placed in solitary confinement," Phillips said. "While it is encouraging to see progress being made, the serious issues surrounding the spread of misinformation, improper detainment, and judicial misconduct cannot be overlooked. Our commitment to seeking justice remains steadfast."

Phillips recently told Steve Bannon on his "War Room" podcast that the Konnech saga is far from being over, stressing, "[Konnech] cannot get out of this. There is no way possible out of this."

He added that Yu, although let off the hook in November, may also be in for more trouble: "LA District Attorney and prosecutors have every single thing they need to put this guy in jail for the rest of his life — all of this election data and all of the private information [on American poll workers] are on Chinese servers," added Phillips.

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