Turkey criticizes ‘biased’ US indictment over Washington brawl
ANKARA - AFPTurkey has criticized a fresh indictment from the U.S. Justice Department against Turkish security personnel accused of assaulting protesters during a Washington visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in May.
A total of 19 people, including Turkish security officials, were identified from video footage of the May 16 clashes with protesters outside the residence of Turkey’s ambassador, following a meeting between Erdoğan and President Donald Trump. Three more names were added to the case on Aug. 29.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry reacted to the move in a statement late on Aug. 30.
Turkey has told U.S. officials that security outside the ambassador’s home was negligent and did not ensure the safety of Erdoğan’s entourage amid protests from sympathizers of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), it claimed.
“We protest in the strongest terms that such an unjust and biased indictment, including the names of people who have never even been to the U.S., has been accepted,” the ministry stated, adding that it had conveyed its reaction to the U.S. ambassador to Ankara.
Turkey “reserved the right to take action via legal means” against the charges, which the ministry said were “unfounded.”
A total of 21 counts of assault and hate crimes based on the victims’ ethnicity were levelled against the group by Washington DC district attorney Channing Phillips.
All but two of the 19 “security personnel and supporters of Erdoğan” remain at large. Two Turkish-American businessmen were arrested in June for their roles in the clash with protesters.
Of the 17 others, two are Canadians and the rest are Turkish citizens.
The clashes during Erdoğan’s visit exacerbated tensions between the NATO allies, with the Turkish leader accusing U.S. police of having allowed “terrorists” to protest “50 meters from me.”