A grand jury in Washington DC issued indictments for 19 Turkish citizens, including 15 identified as Turkish security officials that were part of the official security detail for the Turkish President who was visiting Washington DC, for attacking protesters in May 2017.
The indictments, announced on August 29, charge the defendants with attacking peaceful demonstrators who were protesting the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on May 17.
All 19 are charged with conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, a felony punishable by a statutory maximum of 15 years in prison.
Several face additional charges of assault with a deadly weapon.
Sixteen of the defendants had already been charged June 13; Tuesday’s indictment adds three new defendants, all Turkish security officials.
Two of the defendants were arrested in June and face an initial court hearing on Sept. 7. The rest remain at large and are believed to be back in Turkey.
Various members of Erdogan’s visiting security team, some of them armed, attacked a group protesting his regime as police struggled to restore order. Bystanders recorded the confrontation with cellphones. The incidents took place in Sheridan Circle outside the Turkish Embassy. It is important to note that the protestors were within their legal rights to protest in the park, directly across from the Turkish Ambassador’s residence.
Many were outraged that arrests did not happen on the spot, as Washington DC police broke up the scuffle, although several men were taken into custody.
The Trump Administration ordered the police agency to release two presidential guards taken into custody, saying they had diplomatic immunity.
Protesters say they were attacked by three groups affiliated with Erdogan: members of his dark-suited security team; khaki-dressed security officers who either traveled with the president or were assigned to the embassy; and civilians who back the regime.
One video shows a man lean into a car where Erdogan was sitting outside the residence, then signal to another man who then heads toward the protesters.
— The Voice of America (@VOANews) May 18, 2017
Things quickly become chaotic, and other videos show more dark-suited men, some carrying furled red Turkish flags, kicking and punching protesters — some in the head as they lay prone on the ground — as D.C. police try to intercede. At one point, Erdogan emerges from the car and watches the scene.
Numerous members of Congress issued strong condemnation against the attacks, including Sen. John McCain, who said the United States should throw the Turkish Ambassador “the hell out of the United States.”