Sunday, February 5, 2023

Capitol rebel Evan Neumann has applied for asylum in Belarus, local media report

MOSCOW – The man who participated in the January 6 Capitol riot and is wanted by the FBI is now seeking asylum in Belarus, state media reported on Monday, portraying him as “an ordinary American whose shops were burned down by Black Lives Matter activists. … “

Evan Neumann, who appears to have been interviewed by Belarusian state television on a segment titled “Goodbye America,” is wanted in the United States on charges of forced entry and hooliganism on Capitol grounds, as well as assault. resistance and obstruction to law enforcement agencies during civil unrest.

It was not possible to contact the Belarusian Foreign Ministry for comment.

Both Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and close ally Russian President Vladimir Putin have frequently cited the Capitol riots, citing the prosecution of participants as an example of “double standards” by the United States, as they often criticize the suppression of anti-government protests abroad.

When massive protests erupted in Belarus last year against a presidential election widely condemned as rigged by the international community, thousands of demonstrators were brutally beaten by police and arrested. Many said they were tortured in prison.

But Neumann could be welcomed in Belarus as part of the regime’s anti-Western propaganda. Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, said last year’s opposition movement was initiated by the United States to overthrow him.

In an excerpt from an interview with Neumann, the Belarusian state TV presenter said that Neumann “sought justice and asked uncomfortable questions” after the 2020 US elections. The 48-year-old man “has lost almost everything and is being persecuted by the US government,” the host added.

The full interview will air on Wednesday. In a preview released Monday, Neumann said he went into hiding as soon as he was warned that he would be added to the FBI’s most wanted list. According to him, the lawyer recommended that he go to Europe. The state TV presenter reported that Neumann had been living in a rented apartment in Ukraine for four months.

Neumann said that Ukrainian security agents began pursuing him, so he then crossed to Belarus on foot through the Ukrainian swamps of Pripyat, near Chernobyl. He claimed that he met snakes and wild boars on the way.

The Ukrainian border service said they did not provide information on individual cases.

Belarusian border guards detained him on August 15, state television reported. The interview took place in the Belarusian city of Brest.

Neumann said he did not believe he had committed any crime.

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David L. Stern of the Washington Post in Kiev contributed to this report.

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