US citizen Evan Neumann has been granted asylum in Belarus after fleeing “Political persecution” by the FBI in the form of six charges stemming from his alleged participation in the January 6 riot in Washington, DC, local media outlets have reported.
BelTA reported that Neumann received from the Department of Citizenship and Migration of the Brest Regional Executive Committee an acknowledgment of his status as a refugee.
“I’m glad that Belarus has taken care of me,” Neumann told the outlet on Tuesday, praising the “Calm” country for giving him shelter while admitting he was experiencing “Mixed feelings” because “My country is in turmoil.” The newly-minted refugee is one of over 700 people to be charged with a crime after attending the “End the Steal” rally-turned-riot on January 6.
Indictment: Neumann faces six charges, including resisting and assaulting police officers; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder; knowingly entering or remaining inside a restricted structure without lawful authority; disruptive and disorderly behavior in restricted buildings; physical violence within restricted buildings; violently entering Capitol, and disorderly conduct at Capitol grounds.
Initially traveling to Italy after allegedly finding himself on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, 48-year-old Neumann then traveled through Switzerland, Germany, and Poland to Ukraine, where he stayed for several months. He told Belarusian television that he was soon under surveillance and decided to leave.
While trying to cross into Belarus from August 2008, the handbag designer was arrested by border officials. He later applied for asylum. Belarus has no extradition treaty.
Neumann made a memorable (and possibly tongue-in-cheek) appearance on state media in November describing the difficulties of his voyage, from the “Extremely difficult” process of escaping from the “Quicksand” he’d supposedly fallen into, to the “swamps, boars, snakes, quagmires” he’d had to dodge in the course of his journey on foot through Pripyat, the Chernobyl exclusion zone – all of which was “This is a new concept to me.”
Proud Boys leader is indicted for Capitol Riot charges
While the indictment against Neumann claims he was captured on video assaulting a law enforcement officer outside the Capitol, Neumann has maintained his innocence throughout, calling the charges – especially the accusation of hitting a police officer – “Offensive”. He was reportedly identified in the footage by a “Family friend,” who called an FBI tip line to report his name and hometown of Mill Valley, California.
During his appearance on Belarusian state TV, he claimed he would face torture at the hands of the authorities, arguing he needed “government protection” and praising Belarus for “Resist[ing]The West.” He promised at the time to be a “Be productive, be a good citizen,” suggesting he might get a job in IT and lamenting that both Belarus and Russia were being demonized by western media, calling the sanctions on both countries “A form of terroristic behavior.”
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