Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

Evan Neumann fled the US on the pretext of a business trip and traveled through Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Poland and Ukraine.

An American facing criminal charges for participating in the January 6 riot at the United States Capitol, seeking asylum in Belarus, reported the country’s state television on Monday – a sign of growing tension between the turbulent former Soviet state and the US.

Evan Neumann, 48, of California, taunted and shouted swear words at U.S. Capitol police on Jan. 6 before putting a gas mask over his face and threatening one officer, saying police would be “assaulted” according to U.S. prosecutors.

But in an interview with state television channel Belarus 1, Neumann denied the charges, which included assault, obstruction and other offenses, claiming he was being politically prosecuted.

“I do not think I have committed any crime,” Neumann said, according to a Belarus 1 voiceover from his interview remarks. “One of the charges was very offensive; it claims I beat a police officer. It has no grounds for that. “

Hundreds of supporters of former President Donald Trump storm the U.S. capital on Jan. 6 in an effort to force Congress to postpone proceedings to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory. The incident became a controversial dividing line between Republicans and Democrats in American politics.

A special committee of the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives is investigation Trump and his Republican allies’ alleged role in inciting the mob that used chemical sprays, tasers and improvised weapons. Police responded with tear gas and riot groups. More than 650 individuals have been charged for their actions on Jan. 6, according to the FBI, which issued a warrant for Nuemann’s arrest in March.

The Belarus 1 channel on Sunday promoted excerpts from his interview with Neumann and announced that he will broadcast the full version on Wednesday. Neumann spoke in English but was baptized in Russian for the broadcast, The Associated Press reported.

The FBI claims that Neumann was standing in front of a police barrier wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat when a crowd of pro-Trump insurgents tried to force past officers, according to court documents issued by Al Jazeera has been reviewed.

“I’m willing to die, are you?” prosecutors quoted Neumann as saying to police.

Supporters of President Donald Trump broke through police barriers on January 6 and overran the US capital. More than 650 people have been arrested and charged by the FBI [File: Julio Cortez/AP Photo]

Washington Metropolitan Police body camera video shows Neumann and others pushing a metal barrier into a row of officers trying to push the crowd back before hitting two officers with his fist and then hitting them with the barrier.

Neumann was identified by investigators after someone who said they were a family friend called an FBI hotline with Neumann’s name and hometown, Mill Valley, California. He was charged in a U.S. federal criminal charge that included detailed body camera footage of Neumann fighting police and cell phone data showing he was inside the Capitol building.

Neumann told Belarus 1 his photo was added to the FBI’s most wanted list, after which he left the country under the pretext of a business trip. Neuman, who owns a handbag manufacturing business, traveled to Italy in March, and then through Switzerland, Germany and Poland. When he arrived in Ukraine, he spent several months there.

He said he had decided to cross into neighboring Belarus illegally after noticing oversight by Ukraine’s security forces. “It is terrible. This is political persecution, “Neumann told the TV channel.

Belarusian border guards detained Americans as they tried to cross into Belarus and sought asylum in mid-August. Belarus does not have an extradition treaty with the US.

The US Embassy in Belarus has rejected a request from the AP for comment. A US Department of Justice official said the DOJ would not comment on the existence or non-existence of requests for detention to foreign governments.

Belarus 1 television anchors described Neumann as a “simple American, whose shops were burnt down by members of the Black Lives Matter movement, who sought justice, asked inconvenient questions but lost almost everything and by the US government prosecuted “.

In a brief preface to the interview, the Belarus 1 reporter also said that “something” made Neumann “flee” from the land of fairytale freedoms and opportunities “- an apparent disapproval of the US, which has imposed several sanctions on Belarus has about human rights violations and violent repression of differences.

Belarus has been rocked for months demonstrations after election officials gave authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term in a presidential election in August 2020 that dismissed the opposition and the West as a fraud.

Lukashenko’s government has a violent repression on the protesters, more than 35,000 people were arrested and thousands of them severely beaten. The repression provoked widespread international outrage.

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