A California man who is wanted by the FBI for allegedly assaulting cops during the Jan. 6 Capitol riots is now seeking asylum in Belarus after fleeing the US, where he claims he’s the subject of “political persecution.”
Evan Neumann told Belarusian state television on Monday that he has been on the run since he was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted list earlier this year.
In an interview titled “Goodbye, America”, the 48-year-old handbag manufacturer from Mill Valley said he “started hiding, traveling across America from one place to another” before fleeing to Europe in March.
“I hired a lawyer. And the lawyer said that I could go to Europe on a business trip. This is why I planned it for my bag company. The lawyer said it was good because it would buy time. And then it will become clear what is happening with my affairs,” he said.
“After all, no court proceedings were carried out. So, in order to understand what was happening, I left.”
He said he traveled through Switzerland, Germany and Poland before arriving in Ukraine in mid-March.
Neumann told the outlet that he had rented an apartment there for four months but decided to flee after believing Ukrainian authorities were following him.
He then crossed into Belarus by foot in August through the Ukrainian swamps of Pripyat — claiming to have had encounters with wild boars and snakes on the way.
Belarus doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the US.
The former Soviet republic has been ruled by authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko since 1994.
Neumann was charged in July with six counts, including assaulting officers and violent entry, over his alleged involvement in the Capitol riots, according to a criminal complaint.
He was allegedly captured on bodycam video assaulting an officer outside the Capitol.