Alleged Capitol Rioter Granted Asylum in Belarus

Evan Neumann is wanted by the FBI for assaulting police officers on Jan. 6
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2021 5:34 PM CST
Updated Mar 24, 2022 8:15 AM CDT
Alleged Capitol Rioter Turns Up In Belarus, Seeks Asylum
File photo of violent insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump outside the US Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

(Newser) Update: Evan Neumann has found an indefinite safe haven in Belarus. According to that nation's BelTA state media, the 49-year-old from Mill Valley, Calif., wanted by the FBI on charges of assaulting police officers at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, has been granted asylum by the Russian ally, reports NPR. In a Tuesday interview, Neumann admitted to "mixed feelings" about his new refugee status, noting that while "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," per CNN. Belarus claims the charges against Neumann are politically motivated. Neumann, who told BelTA he feels safe in his new home, added his situation is "bittersweet, like eating [cranberries]." Our original story from Nov. 8 follows:

A man suspected of taking part in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and wanted by the FBI turned up in Belarus and is seeking asylum. He was interviewed on Belarus state TV, who called him a "simple American whose shops were burned by Black Lives Matter activists," the Washington Post reports. Evan Neumann is wanted on charges related to entering the Capitol grounds, as well as assaulting, resisting, and obstructing law enforcement. He told the Belarus1 station he's been in hiding, the target of "political persecution," CNN reports. Neumann said he moved around Europe for a while, winding up in Ukraine in March where, he says, he was followed. That prompted him to try to walk into Belarus, where was found by border guards. He said he thought the assault charge against him is "wholly without merit."

Belarus' authoritarian leader, President Alexander Lukashenko, crowed over the Jan. 6 riot, saying, "In our country, protesters and other dissatisfied people don't storm government agencies and capitols," per the Hill. Lukashenko's recent re-election—he's been in power since 1994—was widely considered by the international community to be rigged. A spokesman for the US Embassy in Belarus, which is housed in Lithuania, told WaPo that they were aware of reports that Neumann was in Belarus but couldn't comment due to privacy laws. (Read more Capitol riot stories.)

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