Jan. 6 accused rioter seeks asylum in Belarus

A man wanted by the FBI for allegedly participating in the Capitol riot is seeking political asylum in Belarus, according to a report by Radio Free Europe, which noted an interview the man gave to a state-controlled television station. 

In the interview with the Belarus-1 television network, 48-year-old Evan Neumann, who contends that he did not commit a crime, said he is seeking asylum after fleeing the U.S. on advice of his lawyer.

Six charges were filed against him after he was identified in viral videos from Jan. 6, including charges of assaulting police officers and violent entry.

ADVERTISEMENT

Belarus is one of Russia's top allies, and the interview seems aimed at pushing narratives backed by Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinUS raises concerns about Russian troop movements to Belarus Putin tests a model for invading Ukraine, outwitting Biden's diplomats White House says Russia could launch attack in Ukraine 'at any point' MORE about the United States and its political faults.

Russia routinely pushes anti-American propaganda, and the segment featuring Neumann is titled “Goodbye, America." Neumann is described by state media as “the same type of simple American whose shops were burned by Black Lives Matter activists.”

Neumann he said he moved from Switzerland to Italy after fleeing the U.S. and then settled in Ukraine for a couple of months. However, he said he decided to flee to Belarus after the Ukrainian forces started following him around the city. Ukraine is another target of pro-Russia propaganda.

He said he was detained by Belarus police in August for crossing into the country illegally via Ukraine. 

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has previously mocked the U.S. over the Capitol riots.

“In our country, protesters and other dissatisfied people don’t storm government agencies and capitols,” Lukashenko said in January. “We have a completely normal situation from the perspective of the development of democratic processes.”

ADVERTISEMENT

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Belarus, based in Vilnius, Lithuania, said in a statement to The Hill that the embassy has “seen Belarusian state media reporting about Mr. Neumann. Due to U.S. privacy laws, we are limited in what we can say about individual U.S. citizens.”

The spokesman, Tim O'Connor, also told The Hill that while every citizen can count on an "objective court system" in the United States, Belarusian police have not been subject to a transparent investigation for their repression of citizens protesting the nation's ruling government.

— Updated Nov. 9 at 1:20 p.m.