Capitol Rioter Rejects Charges From U.S. Government, Asks for Asylum in Belarus

One of the alleged participants of the January 6 Capitol riots is requesting asylum in Belarus.

Evan Neumann told state TV station Belarus 1 that he was at the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection. However, he rejects any charges brought against him, including those involving assaulting police and obstruction.

"I don't think I have committed some kind of a crime," he told the station in an interview, although his original English was dubbed over in Russian. "One of the charges was very offensive; it alleges that I hit a police officer. It doesn't have any grounds to it."

Following the attack, Neumann left the United States for Italy, claiming he was on a business trip. He then traveled to Switzerland, Germany, Poland, and Ukraine before illegally crossing Belarus in August. Upon his apprehension by border patrols, he requested asylum, despite not having an extradition treaty with the U.S.

"It is awful," he told the station. "It is political persecution."

U.S. prosecutors said that he was seen at the front of a police barricade during the January 6 riots, taunting authorities and telling an officer, "I'm willing to die, are you?"

Bodycam footage also showed Neumann among a crowd that shoved a barricade into officers. According to court papers, he then allegedly punched two officers and hit them with a piece of the fence. Afterward, Neumann was charged with a U.S. federal criminal complaint.

He is among more than 650 people who have been charged concerning the January 6 attack. The U.S. embassy in Belarus has declined to comment. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice said that it does not comment "on the existence or non-existence of requests for apprehension to foreign governments."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Jan. 6 Red Hats
Capitol rioter Evan Neumann told state TV station Belarus 1 he rejects any charges brought against him by the U.S. Government. Supporters of former President Donald Trump protest inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Neumann's request is a move that may further heighten the tensions between the turbulent ex-Soviet nation and the United States.

The channel aired excerpts of the interview on Sunday and promised to release the full version on Wednesday.

U.S. court documents state that Neumann stood at the front of a police barricade wearing a red "Make America Great Again" hat as a mob of pro-Trump rioters tried to force past officers.

Neumann was identified by investigators after someone who said they were a family friend called an FBI tip line with Neumann's name and hometown of Mill Valley, California.

His charge under a federal complaint means a judge agreed that investigators presented sufficient probable cause that Neumann had committed the crimes.

On January 6, a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol building and delayed Congress' certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

Neumann told Belarus 1 that his photo had been added to the FBI's most-wanted list.

The Belarus 1 anchors described Neumann as a "simple American, whose stores were burned down by members of the Black Lives Matter movement, who was seeking justice, asking inconvenient questions, but lost almost everything and is being persecuted by the U.S. government."

In a short preface to the interview, the Belarus 1 reporter also said that "something" made Neumann "flee from the country of fairytale freedoms and opportunities"—an apparent snub toward the U.S., which has levied multiple sanctions against Belarus over human rights abuses and violent crackdown on dissent.

Belarus was rocked by huge months-long protests after election officials gave authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term in the August 2020 presidential election that the opposition and the West have denounced as a sham.

Lukashenko's government unleashed a violent crackdown on the protesters, arresting more than 35,000 people and badly beating thousands of them. The crackdown elicited widespread international outrage.

Evan Neumann requested asylum after being apprehended by border agents after illegally entering Belarus. Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko speaks during his interview with the Russian magazine of the Natsionalnaya Oborona (National Defense) in Minsk, Belarus, on November 9. Nikolai Petrov/BelTA Pool Photo via AP