WASHINGTON — An American man who fled the U.S. after being charged with assaulting police officers during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was granted refugee status in Belarus, according to a Belarusian state-owned news agency.
The Belarusian Telegraph Agency reported that the man, Evan Neumann, was notified Tuesday that country's Interior Ministry granted him refugee status. An immigration official, Yuri Brazinsky, said Neumann illegally crossed into Belarus in August 2021 from Ukraine.
"He explained that he noticed surveillance there, began to fear for his life and health. He took with him a map, a backpack with things and crossed the state border in the area of responsibility of the Pinsk border guard, where he was immediately detained," Brazinsky told the state news agency.
Neumann said in an interview with the news agency, "I feel safe in Belarus. Calm. I like the country. I have mixed feelings today. I am glad because Belarus has taken care of me. I am upset because I found myself in such a situation that there were problems in my native country."
Neumann did not immediately respond to a request for comment on LinkedIn.
Neumann was wanted on six criminal charges, according to a filing with the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., in March 2021. The filing alleged he punched police officers and used a metal barricade at the Capitol to ram into them during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
His LinkedIn profile said he “participated in the Ukrainian Orange Revolution" in 2004 and 2005, when mass protests erupted because of claims fraud in a presidential election, according to the U.S. court filing.
Neumann, who according to the court filing is from Mill Valley, California, said in an interview with a Belarusian state-run TV news channel in November that he traveled to Italy in March 2021 and then made his way to Ukraine. After spending several months there, he said, Ukrainian security officials started to follow him, prompting him to cross the border into Belarus, where he was detained by border guards.
“It’s terrible. It is a political persecution, not a criminal investigation, but political persecution,” Neumann said of the charges in the TV interview. “I do not consider myself having inflicted any harm,” he said. “One of the charges was particularly insulting, namely that I hit a police officer. This has no grounds at all.”