Brest, BELARUS – A Capitol riot suspect who fled to Eastern Europe to avoid arrest in the United States has been granted asylum by the dictatorship of Belarus.
The country’s state-owned television network, BelTA, posted a video of 49-year-old Evan Neumann signing a migration document and shaking hands with a police official afterwards, The Washington Post reported.
“Now you are completely under the protection of the Republic of Belarus,” the police official told Neumann in the video, according to English subtitles.
“Thanks a lot,” Neumann replied in Russian and waved the document in the air.
Neumann’s face was clean shaven and he didn’t smile as he appeared on BelTA in the same blue plaid shirt that he wore during interviews when he was taken into custody in Belarus in August of 2021, The Washington Post reported.
“Today I have mixed feelings,” the fugitive said. “I am glad Belarus took care of me. I am upset to find myself in a situation where I have problems in my own country.”
“Belarus is very nice and I feel safe in Belarus, especially compared to my compatriots in America,” Neumann said in an interview after the documents were signed.
“There have been six defendants who have killed themselves,” he added.
Neumann, who is on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) “Most Wanted” list, is facing six charges that include violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, assaulting law enforcement, resisting law enforcement, and obstructing law enforcement in connection with his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, the Daily Mail reported.
The criminal complaint alleged that Neumann punched two police officers during the Capitol riot and that all of it was captured on video, KPIX reported.
Charging documents also claimed that he wrestled with police over a barricade.
Prosecutors said that when police lost control of the fence, Neumann participated with others in using the barricade as a “battering ram” to strike the officers, KPIX reported, according to the complaint.
The indictment against Neumann alleged that he told officers they were “defending the people who are going to kill your f-king children,” the Daily Mail reported.
“They are going to kill your f-king children, they are gonna rape them, they are gonna imprison them, and you’re defending the people that are going to do this to your children,” he said, according to the indictment.
Neumann told state-run television station Belarus 1 in November of 2021 that he doesn’t believe he committed any crimes, KPIX reported.
He claimed the assault charge was “wholly without merit.”
Shortly after the charges were filed against him, Neumann sold his Mill Valley, California home for $1.3 million and fled the Bay Area, the Daily Mail reported.
Neumann explained to Belarus 1 that he “started hiding, traveling across America from one place to another” when the FBI started searching for him to arrest him in the wake of the riot, KPIX reported.
The fugitive had a pilot’s license and owned a private airplane, the Daily Mail reported.
He told Belarus 1 that he fled to Europe and bounced around until mid-March, when arrived in Ukraine.
Neumann flew to Italy and then he took a train to Switzerland and then drove through Germany and Poland to get to Ukraine, the Daily Mail reported.
But then Neumann claimed authorities in the Ukraine started following him so he fled on foot into Belarus in August, KPIX reported.
To get to Belarus, he claimed he waded through swamps and dodged wild hogs and snakes, the Daily Mail reported.
Neumann was detained by Belarusian border authorities on August 15.
“I wouldn’t dare ask for asylum until the [Security Service of Ukraine] started following me in Ukraine, two weeks later. It’s horrible,” he told Belarus 1.
Neumann has claimed he is the subject of “political persecution,” the Daily Mail reported.
“I do not believe that I have committed any crime,” he told Belarus 1. “One of the charges was very offensive. It is alleged that I hit a police officer. There is no reason for this.”
“This is terrible,” Neumann said in the interview. “This is political persecution. And this is a level with which I cannot do anything.”
The television station painted the fugitive as an average American, the Daily Mail reported.
“Judging by his story, [Neumann] is the same type of simple American whose shops were burned by Black Lives Matter activists,” the Belarus 1 news reporter said when he introduced Neumann.
The reporter called the fugitive “politically active” but said he didn’t have access to state secrets, the Daily Mail reported.
“However, something makes him flee from the country of fabulous freedoms and opportunities, as we used to believe,” the reporter said.
He said Neumann was in trouble with law enforcement because he “sought justice and asked uncomfortable questions” after the 2020 Presidential election, the Daily Mail reported.
The reporter said Neumann had “lost almost everything and is being persecuted by the U.S. government.”
The FBI has said that Neumann attended the Ukrainian Revolution in 2004 and 2005, the Daily Mail reported.
Belarus is run by dictator Alexander Lukashenko who has stayed in power for the past 27 years by rigging elections and oppressing opposition. Lukashenko is not recognized as a legitimate president by the United States, Canada, or European Union.