Robinson pushes White House for details on terror watchlist suspect arrested in Gates County

RALEIGH, N.C. (WRAL) – The public deserves more information after police in rural North Carolina arrested a man whose name allegedly appears on a federal terrorist watch list, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson said Monday.

WRAL says the suspect in question, Awet Hagos, wasn’t accused by Gates County sheriff’s deputies of engaging in any terrorist activity. Local authorities arrested him last week for resisting arrest, carrying a concealed weapon and assaulting a public official. After he was fingerprinted, multiple media reports indicate, the federal government reached out to inform the deputies not to release Hagos because he was on a terrorism watchlist.

Robinson, the Republican nominee for governor, held a press conference Monday to criticize the federal government for not making more details public like how Hagos got into the country, why he’s on the watchlist or what he was doing in Eure — a small, rural community in northeastern North Carolina near the Virginia border.

“We deserve answers to these questions,” Robinson said.

Law enforcement officials frequently keep details of ongoing investigations secret. But on Monday Robinson sent a letter to Democratic President Joe Biden asking for more details to be released. It was also signed by the top Republican state legislative leaders, Sen. Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore. In a press advisory Monday morning, Robinson called it an “urgent public safety matter.”

When asked if he had discussed his concerns with Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat who is in charge of law enforcement and public safety in North Carolina — and who enjoys a good relationship with Biden — Robinson told reporters that he sent Cooper the same letter he sent Biden on Monday morning.

A spokesman for Cooper said he wasn’t aware of any additional efforts by Robinson to reach out; the governor and lieutenant governor have long had a strained relationship and Cooper has endorsed Robinson’s opponent for governor this year, Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein.

Robinson said he’s concerned by “a pattern of non-cooperation” from the Biden administration with Republican officials like himself. He pointed to reports of a new detention facility for migrant children that the federal government recently opened in Greensboro, which remains empty for now. He and several other GOP elected officials have asked for more information about that center, Robinson said, but have received no answers.