A California man wanted by the FBI for allegedly assaulting police officers during on Jan 6. has been granted asylum in Belarus, officials said Wednesday.
Evan Neumann, 49 — who fled his homeland after being charged with 14 counts — was given permission by the country to stay there “indefinitely,” according to the The Belarusian Telegraph Agency.
To get the refugee status, Neumann told Interior Ministry officials in Belarus — which is closely allied with Russia and President Vladimir Putin— that he faced “political persecution” in the US, according to the state-run news agency.
“I feel safe in Belarus,” Neumann said. “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, of Mill Valley, had been on the run since last March, when he fled to Ukraine to avoid the criminal charges, according to officials. In August, he crossed the border into Belarus by foot illegally and was detained.
Bodycam footage allegedly shows Evan Neumann pushing a barricade against a police officer on Jan. 6.
“He explained that he noticed surveillance there [and] began to fear for his life and health,” immigration official Yuri Brazinsky told the news agency. “He took with him a map, a backpack with things and crossed the state border…where he was immediately detained.”
On Tuesday, the news agency broadcast a scripted ceremony granting Neumann asylum — and highlighting claims that he faced unjust persecution in the US.
“Now you are completely under the protection of the Republic of Belarus,” a uniformed official, Yuri Braziyskiy, told Neumann as he handed him asylum confirmation documents.
Neumann stands accused of punching and striking police officers with a metal barrier. He was also charged with entering the area with a deadly weapon, civil disorder and disorderly conduct.
In November, he gave an interview to Belarusian state TV claiming to be innocent.
“I do not believe that I have committed any crime,” he said. “One of the accusations was very upsetting. It is alleged that I hit a police officer. That is baseless.”
This is an excerpt from New York Post.
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