US envoy to Turkey summoned over arrest warrants for Erdoğan bodyguards

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ISTANBUL, TURKEY - APRIL 27: Ambassador of the United States to Turkey, John Bass speaks during the opening session of Atlantic Council Istanbul Summit 2017 at Swisshotel in Istanbul, Turkey on April 27, 2017. AFP

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Thursday summoned US Ambassador to Turkey John Bass after arrest warrants were issued for 12 members of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s security detail for an attack they perpetrated on protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington last month.

“It has been conveyed to the Ambassador that this decision taken by US authorities is wrong, biased and lacks legal basis; that the brawl in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s Residence was caused by the failure of local security authorities to take necessary measures; that this incident would not have occurred if the US authorities had taken the usual measures they take in similar high level visits and therefore that Turkish citizens cannot be held responsible for the incident that took place,” said a statement released by the ministry.

Calling the decision “wrong and partial” because, the ministry claimed, local authorities had not taken necessary precautions during the altercation, the ministry said it was unacceptable and clearly not the result of an impartial and independent investigation.

“The Ambassador of the United States of America in Ankara has also been informed that the tolerance of the US authorities towards the so-called protesters to approach as close as a few meters to the Turkish Residence with flags and symbols of terrorist organization and their assault to innocent citizens, as well as the lack of any action taken against the US security personnel who assaulted the security guards of our Minister in front of the Chancery run counter to any understanding of justice,” the statement said.

Erdoğan on Thursday also criticized the decision to issue the warrants, saying he would initiate a political and legal fight against the warrants for his security personnel.

They have issued arrest warrants for my security detail. What kind of a law is this, what kind of a judiciary is this? We conduct a political and legal fight [against the decision],” he said.

District of Columbia Police Chief Peter Newsham announced the arrest warrants at a news conference on Thursday, saying nine agents, three Turkish police officers and two Canadians are being sought.

“We all saw the violence that was perpetrated against the protesters,” Newsham said. “We’re not going to tolerate this,” he added, characterizing the clash as an unprovoked and “brutal attack on peaceful protesters.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the charges “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.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert declined to say what actions might be taken, but the US could seek the extradition of the Turkish suspects or prevent them from again entering the United States.

In related news, two Turkish nationals resident in the United States have been arrested by US Marshals for their role in the beating of protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C., last month, according to a report by The Daily Caller.

The State Department confirmed in a statement to The Daily Caller that the arrests had been made, saying: “Now that charges have been filed, the Department will weigh additional actions for the named individuals, as appropriate under relevant laws and regulations. Any further steps will be responsive and proportional to the charges.”

According to the report, the DC Metropolitan Police identified the two men as Eyüp Yıldırım and Sinan Narin. Yıldırım, a construction company owner from New Jersey, faces charges of bodily injury and aggravated assault. Narin, from Virginia, is facing charges of aggravated assault.

A State Department official told Fox News that they had to wait for these charges before they could “kick them out of the country.”

The two are accused of attacking American citizens outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence on Sheridan Circle, an upscale diplomatic neighborhood in northwest Washington. The demonstrators had gathered to protest the policies of Turkish President Erdoğan, who was in the capital for a meeting with Donald Trump. When Erdoğan later arrived at the ambassadorial residence, his security detail, along with supporters of the Turkish president, was captured in video footage brutally attacking the group of demonstrators. Nine people were injured in the melee.

Erdoğan was also seen in the footage watching his bodyguards assault the protesters.

The Turkish Embassy at the time claimed that Erdoğan’s bodyguards were acting in self-defense and that the protesters were affiliated with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, allegations denied by the demonstrators.

The violent confrontation sparked an outcry from members of the US Congress and the passage of a resolution demanding that the perpetrators be brought to justice.

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