A 48-year old man who is an alleged Jan.6 'Capitol rioter' is currently seeking political asylum in Belarus, in a bizarre story capturing global headlines, also given heavy FBI involvement and a manhunt underway.
After California resident Evan Neumann was charged in July with six criminal counts he reportedly fled to eastern Europe, and was subsequently placed on the US Most Wanted List. He's since emerged in Alexander Lukashenko's Belarus, where he's been given a hero's treatment, with state media portraying him as a "simple American" who is fleeing "political persecution".
He's among hundreds of Americans across various states who are now facing federal charges for their role during the chaotic events at the Capitol building on Jan.6. However, unlike most, Neumann is charged with assaulting officers - allegedly having punched multiple police.
NBC News describes the details of his crimes as follows:
According to the Justice Department document, on Jan. 6 as a mob of Donald Trump supporters attacked the Capitol in a bid to halt the electoral vote count and overturn President Joe Biden’s victory, a man captured on video and identified as Neumann pushed a barricade into officers and punched multiple officers before asking, "I’m willing to die, are you?"
But interestingly, the ex-Soviet Republic of Belarus - which is widely described as Europe's last dictatorship (given President Alexander Lukashenko's rule of 26 years) - is featuring his story as an example of Western hypocrisy and America's crackdown on human rights.
This at a moment the Lukashenko government itself is under European and US sanctions - and facing international isolation - for seeking to suppress the large protests of last year following his contested re-election to a sixth term as president.
Evan Neumann, on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for his role in the insurrection, is now in Belarus seeking asylum. He first flew to Italy, then took a train to Switzerland, then drove to Ukraine, then crossed the border illegally through a swamp into Belarus. https://t.co/mjtZyLwmQv— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) November 8, 2021
One Belarus TV channel introduced Neumann by saying: "Judging by his story, [Neumann] is the same type of simple American whose shops were burned by Black Lives Matter activists."
"However, something makes him flee from the country of fabulous freedoms and opportunities, as we used to believe," the Belarusian TV presenter described of Neumann, and said he "sought justice and asked uncomfortable questions" after Biden was declared victor over Trump, "but lost almost everything and is being persecuted by the U.S. government."
FBI "wanted" post on social media...
Here's more of the recent interview with a prominent state broadcaster, part of a feature interview with the title "Goodbye, America" which aired on Sunday:
Neumann said: 'I do not believe that I have committed any crime. 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... This is political persecution. And this is a level with which I cannot do anything.'
In the interview, he tells a reporter for the state-run television network what he went through, as Belarus 1 tries to paint him as an average American fleeing political persecution.
The FBI says it has body-camera footage captured by the Metropolitan Police Department which depicts him attacking an officer as the crowd was breaking down metal barriers.
US Capitol riot defendant is seeking asylum in Belarus, according to Belarusian state media— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) November 8, 2021
Evan Neumann is accused of assaulting DC police officer, using barricade as battering ram and calling police "motherf***" & "F*** murderers"
FBI calls it open investigation. He's wanted pic.twitter.com/naqFzycJhT
Should Neumann be allowed to stay in Belarus under asylum or protected status, it's unlikely the FBI or DOJ will ever be able to do anything about it, given the two countries don't have an extradition treaty - and also given the US and Belarus increasingly see each other as enemies, and with both Lukashenko and his friend Vladimir Putin lately lashing out at Washington policy.