Capitol suspect Evan Neumann granted asylum in Belarus
A California man wanted by the FBI for allegedly assaulting police officers during the US Capitol riots has been granted asylum in Belarus, officials said Wednesday.
Evan Neumann, 49, who fled his home after being charged with 14 counts in connection with the attack, was given permission by the country to stay there “indefinitely,” the authorities said The Belarusian Telegraph Agency.
In order to obtain refugee status, Neumann told Interior Ministry officials in Belarus – which is closely allied with Russia and President Vladimir Putin – that he faces “political persecution” in the US, according to the state news agency.
“I feel safe in Belarus,” said Neumann. “I have mixed feelings today. I’m glad because Belarus took care of me. I’m upset because I found myself in such a situation that there was trouble in my home country.”
Neumann, of Mill Valley, has been on the run since last March, when he fled to Ukraine to avoid criminal charges, officials said. In August he illegally crossed the border into Belarus and was arrested.
“He explained that he noticed surveillance there [and] began to fear for his life and health,” immigration officer Yuri Brazinsky told the news agency. “He took a map, a backpack with belongings and crossed the state line … where he was immediately arrested.”
On Tuesday, the news outlet aired a scripted ceremony granting Neumann asylum – and highlighting claims he was being unjustly persecuted in the US.
“Now you are fully under the protection of the Republic of Belarus,” a uniformed officer, Yuri Braziyskiy, told Neumann as he presented him with asylum certificates.
Neumann is accused of hitting and hitting police officers with a metal barrier during the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. He was also charged with entering the area with a deadly weapon, committing civil unrest and disorderly conduct
During the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, Neumann was reportedly seen in footage wearing a Make America Great Again hat and shouting, “I’m ready to die, aren’t I?” before charging the officers.
An FBI wanted poster claims he should be considered “armed and dangerous.”
In November he gave an interview to Belarusian state television in which he claimed to be innocent.
“I don’t think I committed a crime,” he said. “One of the allegations was very upsetting. It is alleged that I hit a police officer. That is unfounded.”