Authorities in Washington, D.C., announced arrest warrants Thursday for 12 members of a Turkish security team for their role in a melee which broke out with protesters out last month at Sheridan Circle Park, just blocks from the Turkish embassy in the nation’s capital.
The arrest warrants come one month after Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s visit with President Trump, when nine were injured and two were arrested in the May 16 fracas.
Among the 12 charged are nine Turkish security agents and three Turkish police officers. The warrants also include writs for two private citizens from Canada.
“We all saw the violence that was perpetrated against the protesters. We’re not going to tolerate this. They should bring themselves here to the United States to answer these charges,” said District of Columbia Police Chief, Peter Newsham.
Following the arrest warrants issue, Erdogan blasted the action, saying: “If they are not going to protect me, why would I bring them with me to America?” Erdogan added the protesters were picketing on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, an outlawed group the government of Turkey describes as a terrorist network.
Similarly, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador to lodge an official written and verbal protest over the matter. Describing the warrants as “wrong, biased and lacks legal basis,” a statement blamed Washington police for failing to keep peace and attacking Erdogan’s security agents.
Responding to the arrest warrants, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said they, “send a clear message that the United States does not tolerate individuals who use intimidation and violence to stifle freedom of speech and legitimate political expression.”
[CBC News] [Washington Times] [Photo courtesy New York Post]