Belarus TV: American dealing with Jan. 6 riot costs seeks asylum
KYIV, Ukraine — An American who faces felony costs from the Jan. 6 riot on the U.S. Capitol is looking for asylum in Belarus, the nation’s state TV reported, in a transfer that might additional heighten tensions between the turbulent former Soviet nation and the US.
Evan Neumann of Mill Valley, California, acknowledged in an interview with the Belarus 1 channel that he was on the Capitol that day however rejected the costs, which embrace assaulting police, obstruction and different offenses. The channel aired excerpts of the interview on Sunday and Monday, and promised to launch the complete model on Wednesday.
“I do not assume I’ve dedicated some form of against the law,” mentioned Neumann, 48, in accordance with a Belarus 1 voiceover of his interview remarks. “One of many costs was very offensive; it alleges that I hit a police officer. It does not have any grounds to it.” Neumann spoke in English however was barely audible beneath the dubbed Russian.
Each Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin have used the Jan. 6 riot as a approach to accuse the U.S. of a double commonplace in criticizing different nations, together with Russia and Belarus, for cracking down on antigovernment protests
Belarus was rocked by months of protests after election officers gave Lukashenko a sixth time period within the 2020 balloting that the opposition and the West have denounced as a sham. The federal government unleashed a violent crackdown on the protesters, arresting greater than 35,000 individuals and badly beating hundreds of them. The crackdown elicited widespread worldwide outrage.
Putin likewise has come beneath criticism from the West over the imprisonment of opposition chief Alexei Navalny, the detention of hundreds of demonstrators protesting his arrest, and the outlawing of Navalny’s organizations as extremist. In an interview with NBC in June, Putin recommended that the a whole lot of individuals arrested for rioting on the U.S. Capitol have been being subjected to “persecution for political beliefs.”
U.S. court docket paperwork state that Neumann stood on the entrance of a police barricade carrying a pink “Make America Nice Once more” hat as supporters of President Donald Trump tried to power previous officers. Prosecutors say Neumann taunted and screamed on the police earlier than placing a gasoline masks over his face and threatened one officer, saying police can be “overrun” by the gang.
“I’m prepared to die, are you?” prosecutors quoted Neumann saying to the officer.
Police physique digicam footage reveals Neumann and others shoving a metallic barricade right into a line of officers who have been attempting to push the gang again earlier than he punched two officers together with his fist after which hit them with the barricade, in accordance with court docket papers.
Neumann was recognized by investigators after somebody who mentioned they have been a household buddy known as an FBI tip line with Neumann’s title and hometown. He was charged in a U.S. federal felony grievance, which means a decide agreed that investigators introduced enough possible trigger that Neumann had dedicated the crimes.
Neumann is one in every of greater than 650 individuals who have been charged for his or her actions on Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters attacked the Capitol constructing and delayed Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral School victory.
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Neumann instructed Belarus 1 that his picture had been added to the FBI’s most wished checklist, after which he left the nation beneath the pretense of a enterprise journey. Neuman, who owns a purse manufacturing enterprise, traveled to Italy in March, after which by means of Switzerland, Germany and Poland earlier than arriving in Ukraine and spent a number of months there.
He mentioned he determined to illegally cross into neighboring Belarus after he observed surveillance by Ukraine’s safety forces. “It’s terrible. It’s political persecution,” Neumann instructed the TV channel.
Belarusian border guards detained him when he tried to cross into the nation in mid-August, and he requested asylum in Belarus. Belarus doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S.
“We’ve seen Belarusian state media reporting about this particular person Evan Newman,” State Division spokesman Ned Worth mentioned in Washington.
“Because of U.S. privateness legal guidelines, we’re restricted in what we are able to say about particular person U.S. residents,” he added, and referred inquiries to the Justice Division, which mentioned it does not remark “on the existence or nonexistence of requests for apprehension to international governments.”
The Belarus 1 anchors described Neumann as a “easy American, whose shops have been burned down by members of the Black Lives Matter motion, who was looking for justice, asking inconvenient questions, however misplaced virtually every part and is being persecuted by the U.S. authorities.”
In a brief preface to the interview, the Belarus 1 reporter additionally mentioned that “one thing” made Neumann “flee from the nation of fairytale freedoms and alternatives” — an obvious reference to the U.S., which has levied a number of sanctions in opposition to Belarus over human rights abuses and its violent crackdown on dissent.
Related Press author Mike Balsamo in Washington contributed.