PHOENIX (AP) — A Russian immigrant who once staged a monthlong hunger strike at an Arizona detention center and was shot several months later during a struggle with a federal agent near the Mexican border has pleaded guilty to illegally re-entering the United States after he was deported.
Evgenii Glushchenko acknowledged during a court hearing Tuesday in Tucson that he illegally crossed the border east of Lukeville, Arizona, in November 2019. He was shot in the thigh by a Border Patrol agent who tried to apprehend him.
His plea agreement calls for a sentence of time already served and said a charge of assaulting a federal agent against Glushchenko will be dismissed at sentencing, which is scheduled for June 29.
“I admit my guilt,” Glushchenko said through an interpreter.
About five months before the shooting, Glushchenko lost 25% of his body weight as he refused to eat until he was released from detention, leading a judge to give authorities the power to force-feed Glushchenko.
Once deported to Russia, Glushchenko resurfaced in Arizona several months later and was injured in the shooting.
One of his attorneys has said Glushchenko came to United States seeking asylum because he is a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which Russia banned in 2017 and declared to be an extremist organization.
In the shooting, authorities say Glushchenko ran from Border Patrol agent, resisted the officer’s attempt to handcuff him and pulled the radio off his belt. They say Glushchenko then grabbed the agent’s genitals, leading the officer to shoot Glushchenko.
In his earlier arrest that led to the hunger strike, his lawyers had said Glushchenko and his wife had fled Russia to Mexico after receiving “repeated government death threats” because of his work with western charities and refusal to pay bribes to the Federal Security Service, a Russian intelligence agency.
Prosecutors said investigators later discovered Glushchenko wasn’t actually married to the woman with whom he had a child. In any case, the woman is seeking asylum, according to court records.