MOSCOW — A man who allegedly participated in the Capitol riot Jan. 6 and is wanted by the FBI is now seeking asylum in Belarus, the country’s state media reported Monday, presenting him as a “simple American whose shops were burned by Black Lives Matter activists.”
Evan Neumann, who appears to have sat down for an interview with Belarusian state television in a segment titled “Goodbye, America,” is wanted in the United States on charges of violent entry and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds, as well as for assaulting, resisting and obstructing law enforcement during civil disorder.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry could not be reached for comment.
Both Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his close ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, have frequently referenced the Capitol riot, calling the prosecution of those involved an example of “double standards” by the United States because it frequently criticizes crackdowns on anti-government protests abroad.
When mass protests broke out across Belarus last year over its presidential election, which the international community has widely denounced as rigged, thousands of demonstrators were brutally beaten by police and arrested. Many claimed they had been tortured while in jail.
But Neumann could be welcomed in Belarus as part of the regime’s anti-Western propaganda efforts. Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, has said the United States stoked last year’s opposition movement to unseat him.
Tim O’Connor, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Belarus, which is based in Vilnius, Lithuania, said in a statement 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 United States is a country where the rule of law is respected and where government is transparent and accountable for its actions,” O’Connor added. Every citizen has the right to a fair and impartial court system. There has not been a single case of transparent, accountable investigation into and prosecution of the actions of Belarusian police that resulted in deaths, systemic torture and the continued repression of Belarusian citizens, of whom over 800 remain in jail for peaceful protest against the regime.”
In an excerpt of Neumann’s interview, the Belarusian state television presenter said Neumann “sought justice and asked uncomfortable questions” after the 2020 U.S. elections. The 48-year-old “lost almost everything and is being persecuted by the U.S. government,” the presenter added.
The full interview will air Wednesday. Neumann stated Monday that he fled to hide after he received notice that he had been added to the FBI’s Most Wanted List. He said that a lawyer suggested that he travel to Europe. According to the state TV presenter, Neumann was living in Ukraine in a rented apartment for four months.
Neumann said Ukrainian security service agents started pursuing him, so he then crossed into Belarus on foot through the Ukrainian swamps of Pripyat, near Chernobyl. He said he encountered wild boars and snakes during the trip.
The Ukrainian border guard service said it does not provide information on individual cases.
Belarusian border guards detained him Aug. 15, according to the state television report. Interview took place in Brest, Belarus.
Neumann said he does not think he committed any crime.
David L. Stern in Kyiv contributed to this report.