By Zachary Stieber
Two leaders of True the Vote organization will be released from jail after an appeals court overruled a judge’s order that they be locked up.
Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips were ordered released by a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit late Nov. 6.
“IT IS ORDERED that Petitioners’ opposed motion for release from detention is GRANTED pending further order of this court,” the panel said in the order, which was obtained by The Epoch Times.
The panel consisted of Circuit Judges Catharina Haynes, a George W. Bush appointee; Kurt Engelhardt, a Trump appointee; and Andrew Oldham, a Trump appointee.
Engelbrecht and Phillips were expected to be released on Nov. 7, a spokesman for True the Vote told The Epoch Times via email on Monday morning.
“They will be released when the paperwork is complete, probably sometime this morning,” the spokesman said.
Engelbrecht and Phillips were imprisoned on Oct. 31 after U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, a Reagan appointee, found them in contempt of court for not revealing the identities of people who were with them when information was accessed from Konnech, a Michigan-based election management software company whose founder was recently arrested for allegedly stealing poll worker data and hosting it on servers in China.
The order for confinement was to be in place until the defendants “fully comply” with an order that they reveal certain information, including the identities, Hoyt said.
Engelbrecht and Phillips say they passed on information that was legally obtained from Konnech to the FBI. One of their attorneys named one of the individuals in question, Mike Hasson, during an October hearing. But they have declined to share the name of the second person. Both the individuals are FBI informants, Phillips said during one hearing.
“Those who thought that imprisoning Gregg and I would weaken our resolve have gravely miscalculated. It is stronger than ever,” Engelbrecht said in a statement. “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.”
“We are profoundly grateful for that. We will continue to protect and defend those who do the vital work of election integrity, and we will make sure that their findings become a matter of public record,” she added.
The imprisonment order came after Konnech sued True the Vote and its founders for defamation.
Hoyt entered a temporary restraining order against the defendants, ordering them to return all property and data to Konnech and identify people who were involved in accessing the company’s computers.
In their filing for release from detention, Engelbrecht and Phillips said that Hoyt’s confinement order “represents a clear abuse of discretion and a manifest miscarriage of justice.”
“Petitioners pray that this Court enter an Order releasing them from the district court’s draconian order of detention for refusing to identity a federal confidential informant in open court whose identity in any event has no bearing on the merits of this defamation case hinging on competing accounts of alleged historical events,” they added.
The pair also said that they never possessed or controlled the information in question. Phillips said Engelbrecht does not know the name that he is withholding and that, if the name were revealed, the person’s life would “be jeopardized by border drug and smuggling cartels.”
In its opposition to the petition, Konnech said that the True the Vote founders were trying to “strip the District Court of its contempt power” and that they “have no one but themselves to blame for their confinement” after defying Hoyt’s order.
“Petitioners’ imprisonment is not an emergency especially in this case where the Petitioners are contemnors and recalcitrant witnesses who hold the keys to the jailhouse, and can free themselves immediately upon purging their contempt,” lawyers for the firm said.