A British man suspected of being an anti-government conspiracy theorist was taken into custody in Austria after six children were found living in a network of cellars, officials said.
“I am not an enemy of the state, I am a philanthropist and above all a loving father,” said Tom Landon, a 54-year-old British man who moved to Austria and is suspected of holding the three boys and three girls below a building in Orbitz he bought that’s not zoned for residential use.
According to Daily Mail, a neighbor called authorities on Landon after hearing children crying and social workers went to the property, where the children, ranging in age from 7 months to 7 years, were found.
“I have been accused of being the new Josef Fritzl but it couldn't be further from the truth,” Landon, who was in police custody for 24 hours, told the outlet.
Fritzl, 87, kept his daughter, Elisabeth, captive in a homemade dungeon in his Austrian home and fathered seven children with her during the 24 years he held her captive. In March 2009, he was sentenced to life behind bars.
Landon, reportedly a conspiracy theorist critical of government, acknowledges he lives “off-grid” and he blames his atypical lifestyle for his recent trouble with authorities. He denies, however, that he is a doomsday prepper convinced a world-changing disaster is imminent.
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According to The Telegraph, local reports suggest he may be a part of the revisionist group Reichsburger, whose members, some of which allegedly are right-wing extremists, denies Germany is currently a sovereign state — but Landon denies the claims, which police also downplayed.
“I am not an enemy of the state,” he told Daily Mail, insisting he’s a “family man.”
“I am a philanthropist and above all a loving father,” he said, adding he tries to make sure his homeschooled children have everything they need.
“We chose not to register the children but they are all mine and now we will have to go to Vienna to take DNA tests to prove they are ours,” he said, according to Daily Mail. “If the authorities were so concerned why have they let the children come back to us?"
Landon also said he wanted all his children to live together when they are older, so he purchased six properties “but now this plan has been ruined because the deputy mayor [Erich Greil] didn't want us here.”
'My family is terrified, they won't come back to the house where we lived for nearly a year because they are scared the police may return. Do you know we had police here with guns and a battering ram to get access to my property?” he asked, according to Daily Mail.
“And all because the deputy mayor doesn't like our chosen lifestyle and wants us out. Do you really think I would be free if I had been keeping my young children in a cellar?”
Landon was released after his arrest and prosecutors said the children were not at risk of being harmed.
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