Texas progressive arrested for questioning local government is getting help from an unlikely source

A progressive citizen journalist in Texas who's known for criticizing and trying to embarrass local authorities in Laredo is suing over a 2017 arrest where she says her civil rights were violated, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's reports.

Local authorities who were subjects of Priscilla Villarreal's criticism used an obscure Texas statute to claim that she had obtained “nonpublic information” from the government with “intent to benefit” herself.

Villarreal was looking to verify the identities of a Border Patrol agent who died by suicide and the members of a family involved in a deadly vehicle accident. The alleged "benefit" was her gaining more Facebook followers.

The Star-Telegram's report alleges that Villarreal was not jailed for her actions, but for her opinions -- and her case attracted support from unlikely right-wing allies who filed briefs on her behalf, including the Alliance Defending Freedom, Americans for Prosperity, Young America’s Foundation and Project Veritas.

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Her charges were eventually dropped and the law used to prosecute her was determined to be "unconstitutionally vague," according to the Star-Telegram.

A federal district court threw out her lawsuit, saying that the officers who jailed Villarreal had “qualified immunity," but a three-judge panel for the 5th Circuit found differently.

“If the First Amendment means anything, it surely means that a citizen journalist has the right to ask a public official a question, without fear of being imprisoned," wrote Judge James C. Ho.

Read the full story over at the Forth Worth Star-Telegram.