Nineteen indicted, including Erdoğan guards, over brawl during Turkish leader’s US visit

Nineteen indicted, including Erdoğan guards, over brawl during Turkish leader’s US visit

Cansu Çamlıbel - WASHINGTON
Nineteen indicted, including Erdoğan guards, over brawl during Turkish leader’s US visit

A grand jury on Aug. 29 indicted 19 people, including 15 Turkish security officials, in connection with a brawl in Washington between protesters and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s security personnel in May, U.S. prosecutors said.

Eleven people were hurt in what Washington’s police chief described as a “brutal attack” on peaceful protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence during Erdoğan’s visit to the United States.

The incident, which took place after Erdoğan met with President Donald Trump at the White House, put further stress on already strained U.S.-Turkey relations.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said in a statement that charges had already been brought against 16 of the defendants, and the indictment of Aug. 29 added three to the list.

The three were named as Muhsin Köse, Yusuf Ayar and Hayrettin Eren, and they were among the 15 Turkish security officials indicted.

“All 19 defendants were indicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, with a bias crime enhancement,” it said. The charge is punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison and bias enhancement could lead to longer sentences, the statement added.

Some defendants are facing additional charges, including “attempting to attack with a dangerous weapon.”

Sinan Narin was arrested in Virginia and Eyüp Yıldırım was arrested in New Jersey for “being involved in a heavy attack aimed at injuries.” They are due to appear in court on Sept. 7, the statement said.

According to the indictment, several of the suspects “clearly denied” the U.S. police’s orders to prevent violence. 

Washington police had previously stated that two of the suspects are U.S. citizens, while another was a Canadian. 

The Turkish Embassy has blamed the violence on demonstrators linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which both Turkey and the United States consider a terrorist group. Ankara previously condemned the U.S. for issuing warrants for Erdoğan’s security personnel by summoning U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass to the Foreign Ministry. 

Those named in the indictment who are currently overseas must now refrain from traveling to the U.S. in order to avoid being tried, and these individuals will reportedly not be included in the security delegation during Erdoğan’s visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly meetings in the week beginning Sept. 18. 

Washington currently faces two options regarding the indictments for suspects in Turkey: One is demanding the extradition of the security personnel from Turkey, another is issuing an Interpol red notice for them.

Even though the standard procedures regarding the case have so far been carried out by the Washington police and the U.S. Department of Justice, the Trump administration has not yet given the green light for a step that would further increase tensions between Turkey and the U.S.