NBC News reports Evan Neumann, 48, discussed his departure in an interview Monday with a Belarusian news channel, revealing that his lawyer had recommended he flee to Europe.
Neumann, who faces six criminal charges, including assaulting officers, obstructing law enforcement, knowingly entering the Capitol without permission, and violent conduct, said that his lawyer had recommended he flee to Europe. Neumann also claimed he did not break any laws.
“I don’t think I have committed some kind of a crime,” Neumann told Belarus 1, according to the Associated Press.“One of the charges was very offensive; it alleges that I hit a police officer. It doesn’t have any grounds to it.”
Neumann continued, “It’s terrible. It is a political persecution, not a criminal investigation, but political persecution. I do not consider myself having inflicted any harm.”
As for his journey to Belarus, Neumann said he traveled to Italy in March, making his way through Switzerland, Germany and Poland before spending several months in Ukraine. From there, he illegally entered Belarus. “I was moving very fast. I fell into some quicksand once and it was very — a challenge to get out from it,” Neumann said, per NBC News. “I have seen wild boars, stumbled upon snakes — vipers in August are very aggressive. Swamps, boars, snakes, quagmires, all this was new to me, of course.”
Neumann is just one of over 600 people who have been charged in connection with the insurrection, which aimed to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election in which Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden.
Neumann was identified by authorities by a family friend who called an FBI tip line. Video allegedly shows the 48-year-old punching an officer and pushing a barricade into police during the attack on the Capitol.