Capitol riot suspect Evan Neumann appears on Russian TV to push his case for asylum

‘I don’t understand why Russia’s our enemy today,’ says riot suspect while seeking asylum in former Soviet country labelled Europe’s last dictatorship

Justin Vallejo
New York
Tuesday 23 November 2021 00:44
Capitol riot suspect appears on kremlin TV

Regrets? The Capitol Riot suspect seeking asylum in Belarus, has a few.

Appearing on Russian-state media outlet RT, Evan Neumann said he regrets “being rude to police” during his alleged assault of officers on 6 January.

The Californian who fled to the former Soviet republic, which has been labelled “Europe’s last dictatorship”, invoked his constitutional rights despite the autocracy not being governed by the US Constitution.

“And, there’s one other thing [I regret] but I won’t say it because I need to invoke my right to silence on that,” Mr Neumann said.

Mr Neumann is alleged to have called an officer a “piece of sh*t” and a “little b*itch” who kneeled to Antifa. He is also alleged to have shoved a metal barricade into an officer before striking the officer with his fist, according to the criminal complaint.

Mr Neumann is now on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most-wanted list after the 48-year-old says agents allowed him to travel to Europe on a work trip.

“I realised that I didn’t have enough money to defend myself because this is a very expensive thing. And my manufacturer was in Italy, so I planned a business trip. I was interviewed by the FBI and let go at the airport. They knew what I was doing and they let me go,” he said.

Mr Neumann reportedly sold his $1.3m Mill Valley house in April before he appeared in November on Belarusian state television during an interview titled “Goodbye, America”. He was portrayed as a “simple American whose shops were burned by Black Lives Matter activists”

In his latest interview with RT, Mr Neumann suggested that the riot could have been provoked by third-party actors not part of the protest, claiming that there was a man with a hammer breaking windows of the US Capitol building.

“I can’t say who he was, or what organisation he was with, whether he was with the government, or with Antifa, or BLM, or some other group, I don’t know. But based on his actions, he probably was not with the protest,” he said.

Mr Neumann was reportedly detained by border guards on 15 August after he fled Ukraine to enter Belarus, which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

“For the first two days I was in a detention centre, which is proper when someone crosses a border illegally, and then they took several interviews,” he said.

“But eventually after a few days, they took my request and moved me to this to where we are now… I believe I’m on some kind of trial period or paperwork processing period.”

Belarus has been ruled by President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994. Much like his Russian ally Vladamir Putin, he has used the US Capitol riot to criticise the “double standard” of the United States criticising foreign crackdowns on anti-governmental protests while prosecuting anti-governmental protesters domestically.

Mr Lukashenko blamed the US for stoking an opposition movement to unseat him in 2020 when mass protests broke out over a presidential election that has been widely denounced as rigged. Thousands of demonstrators were beaten and arrested, with many claiming they were tortured in prison.

Mr Neumann told that it was the treatment of Capitol riot suspects in the US that prompted him to seek asylum in Belarus ahead of Joe Biden’s meeting with Ukraine’s president Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“The upcoming Biden-Zelensky summit, the algebra came to show that I needed to, that I was being sought for political reasons, and I knew about the solitary confinement of the other accused in the uprising and the beatings that were occurring, I was on edge looking out for that,” he said.

If Belarus approves Mr Neumann’s asylum, it would follow other high-profile cases of US citizens seeking refuge in former Soviet countries like Eduard Snowden.

In his interview with the Kremlin-controlled media company, Mr Neumann gave a glowing endorsement of Russia while he waits for his application to be processed.

“I don’t understand why Russia’s our enemy today. As far as being similar in culture and in our government system, certainly, they’re much closer than Saudi Arabia for instance,” he said.

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