The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Capitol riot suspect who fled to Belarus granted asylum, state media says

Rioters clash with police as they try to enter the Capitol building in an attempt to overthrow the results of the 2020 election. (Pacific Press/Lightrocket)
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A man on the FBI’s wanted list for his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot has been granted asylum in Belarus, the country’s state media reported Tuesday.

Evan Neumann, a 49-year-old from California, fled to Europe after the attack on the U.S. Capitol. He lived in a rented apartment in Ukraine for four months before crossing into Belarus on foot through the Ukrainian swamps of Pripyat, near Chernobyl, late last year, Belarusian state television said at the time. He said he thought Ukrainian security service agents were pursuing him, and that he encountered snakes and wild boars on the journey.

Here are some of the people charged since a mob breached the Capitol

In a video posted by state-owned television network BelTA on Tuesday, Neumann is pictured signing a migration document and shaking hands with a police official, who, according to English subtitles posted with the video, says: “Now you are completely under the protection of the Republic of Belarus.”

“Thanks a lot,” Neumann says, in accented Russian, waving the document and turning toward the camera and other officials in the room, his face clean-shaven and unsmiling.

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.

“Today I have mixed feelings,” Neumann told BelTA in the report aired Tuesday. “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.”

He appeared to be thinner than in his last appearance on Belarusian state television in November, in a segment titled “Goodbye, America,” and was wearing the same blue plaid shirt.

Neumann fled the United States in February last year. He was charged in D.C. a month later with participating in numerous violent acts against law enforcement officers, based on footage from body cameras. An arrest warrant was issued in December.

The FBI alleges that he not only used his hands and fists to strike the officers but also used a metal barricade as a battering ram. About 140 police officers were injured by the mob falsely claiming President Donald Trump had won the 2020 election, and more than 225 people have been charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or employees in the riot, Justice Department records show.

Neumann was identified from the body-cam footage by an anonymous tipster identifying themselves as a family friend, according to the criminal complaint. Investigators also compared the footage to a 2018 TV news report in San Francisco on his arrest for violating orders not to enter a disaster area after a wildfire. Neumann was interviewed during the report.

Neumann has previously said he does not think he committed any crime at the Capitol.

Isabelle Khurshudyan and Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report.