A man who is wanted by the FBI for allegedly taking part in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol storming has been granted asylum in Belarus, according to the nation’s state media.
Californian Evan Neumann, 49, fled the United States shortly after the storming of the Capitol last year. He spent four months in Ukraine before crossing the border into Belarus on foot. His journey took him through swamps filled with snakes and wild boars near Chernobyl, Belarus state television said, as translated and reported by The Washington Post.
“I wouldn’t dare ask for asylum until the [Security Service of Ukraine] started following me in Ukraine, two weeks later. It’s horrible,” he told Belarus tv, according to The Daily Mail.
The state-owned television network BelTA shared video on Tuesday showing Neumann signing a migration document and shaking hands with Belarus authorities.
“Now you are completely under the protection of the Republic of Belarus,” English subtitles said, according to the Post.
“Thanks a lot,” Neumann responds.
Neumann later told the Belarusian outlet that he had “mixed feelings” over the event.
“I am glad Belarus took care of me,” he said. “I am upset to find myself in a situation where I have problems in my own country.”
After fleeing the United States, he was charged with participating in several allegedly violent acts against police officers at the Capitol on Jan. 6, and an arrest warrant was issued in December.
The FBI claims that Neumann used his hands and fists to hit law enforcement officers, and used a metal barricade as a battering ram. The suspect was identified by an anonymous tipster who allegedly saw Neumann in body-cam footage.
Previously, Neumann asserted that he did not commit any crimes at the U.S. Capitol.
“I do not believe that I have committed any crime. One of the charges was very offensive,” he said. “It is alleged that I hit a police officer. There is no reason for this.”
“This is terrible,” he continued. “This is political persecution. And this is a level with which I cannot do anything.”
Earlier this year, a CBS News and YouGov poll showed overwhelming bipartisan agreement that the Jan. 6 Capitol storming was simply “a protest that went too far.”
In the survey conducted from Dec. 27-30, participants were asked to describe the actions of “the people who forced their way into the US Capitol” on Jan. 6.
Of the 2,046 Americans who took part in the poll, 76 percent chose “A protest that went too far” to describe the events on Jan. 6. The second-most popular choice was “trying to overturn the election and keep Donald Trump in power” at 63 percent.