Suspected attackers of US sailors in Turkey freed as reaction against incident mounts
The TGB members put sacks on the heads of three US soldiers. DHA PhotoMembers of a Turkish ultra-nationalist youth organization who were taken into custody over assaulting U.S. sailors in Istanbul have been released by the prosecution.
Twelve members of the Turkish Youth Union (TGB), who were accused of attacking three U.S. Navy sailors by putting sacks on their heads on Nov. 12, were sent to Istanbul’s Çağlayan courthouse in the early hours of Nov. 13 on allegations of injuring, insult and violation of the public demonstration law.
However the prosecutor executing the investigation has released the suspects from the courthouse without taking their deposition, Doğan News Agency has reported.
On. 12, the TGB members followed the three sailors as they exited the USS Ross, which is currently docked on the coast of Eminönü's Sarayburnu neighborhood, after returning from a NATO exercise in the Black Sea.
The attackers shouted the slogans “Yankee Go Home” and “Damn American Imperialism” and threw red dye on the sailors while also putting sacks over their heads. The U.S. sailors, who were in civilian clothing, escaped by running away.
US condemns ‘thug’s attack’
The assault has sparked a strong reaction from both the Turkish and American authorities, who vowed to collaborate on the investigation of the incident.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren has said the U.S. Department of Defense condemns the attacks, which were carried out by “what appeared to be thugs on the street.”
Speaking to reporters during the late hours of Nov. 12, the colonel said he was confident that the Turkish authorities will swiftly investigate the issue, calling the attack “ugly and disturbing.”
“These attackers are a great discredit upon Turks and the Turkish reputation for hospitality. We enjoy a strong relationship with our NATO ally Turkey. We’re confident the Turks will rapidly and effectively investigate [the incident],” he said.
U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki also echoed Warren’s remarks, condemning the incident.
“We’re deeply troubled by today’s assault on sailors of the USS Ross in Istanbul,” she said at her department’s daily press briefing on Nov. 12.
Psaki said the U.S. supports the right to peaceful protest, but the attack crossed the line from being a peaceful protest to violence and threats.
She also added that there is no plan to raise the issue at the diplomatic level with Turkey.
The U.S. sailors assigned to the USS Ross are now back aboard the ship following the cancelation of their shore leave, the Pentagon spokesman said.