Turkey’s Erdogan slams US over security guards charged in Washington brawl

Turkey’s Erdogan slams US over security guards charged in Washington brawl

Turkey’s President Erdogan has slammed the United States decision to arrest a dozen of his security guards and two others accused of taking part in a violent attack on protesters during his official visit to Washington, DC last month.

Speaking at dinner on Thursday to break the Ramadan fast in Ankara, Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked, “What kind of a law is this?”

Police in Washington, DC announced Thursday they had brought charges and issued warrants against a dozen Turkish security officials involved in the outbreak of violence.

Seven Turkish agents would be charged with felonies and five agents would face misdemeanor charges, according to the AP. The US ambassador to Ankara, John Bass, has been summoned for talks by the Foreign Ministry, as a result.

"This decision taken by US authorities is wrong, biased and lacks legal basis," Turkey's the ministry said in a statement. "The brawl in front of the Turkish ambassador's residence was caused by the failure of local security authorities to take necessary measures... Turkish citizens cannot be held responsible for the incident that took place."

Erdogan’s security detail returned with him to Turkey after his visit. Police displayed photos at the news conference of those sought, urging the public to help find some still unidentified.

Earlier Wednesday, two Turkish men living in the US had been arrested for their role in beating protesters outside the Turkish embassy on May 16. The incident, captured on video, provoked a diplomatic scandal.

The State Department spokesperson told reporters that international law allows heads of state customary protections/immunity for members of an entourage, which they lose upon leaving the US.

“If they [the security agents] were to come back to the United States, they would have [outstanding] warrants,” said spokesperson Heather Nauert, who read a statement issued earlier by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“The charges filed against 12 Turkish security officials send a clear message that the US does not tolerate individuals who use intimidation and violence to stifle freedom of speech and legitimate political expression,” said Nauert. “The State Department will continue to work with law enforcement and relevant authorities in the case. When an outcome is reached, the department will determine if any additional steps need to be taken.”

Relations were severely strained even before the incident, which came as Erdogan arrived May 16 at the Turkish ambassador’s residence after a White House meeting with President Donald Trump. Police said video showed security guards and some Erdogan supporters attacking a small group of protesters. Nine people were hurt.

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