Turkey summons US envoy over bodyguards arrest warrants

Turkey condemned the US move to seek arrest of Turkish security agents accused of taking part in Washington brawl.

U.S, Ambassador to Turkey John R. Bass
US issues arrest warrants for a dozen Turkish security agents and two others accused of attacking protesters [File: Murad Sezer/Reuters]

Turkey’s foreign ministry has called in the US ambassador to Ankara, John Bass, for talks after US authorities issued arrest warrants for a dozen official Turkish security guards involved in a brawl with protesters 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,” the ministry said in a statement on Thursday, blaming local authorities for failing to take proper security measures with regards to the “so-called protesters”.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also condemned the decision on Thursday.

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Speaking at a dinner to break the Ramadan fast in Ankara, Erdogan asked: “What kind of a law is this?”

Referring to his security detail, he said, “If they are not going to protect me, why would I bring them with me to America?”

Erdogan said the protesters were members of an outlawed armed Kurdish group and the US police failed to act.

He vowed to fight the decision on legal and political grounds.

Arrest warrants issued

Police say they’ve issued arrest warrants for a dozen Turkish security agents and two others accused of taking part in the violent altercation on May 16, which took place as Turkey’s president visited Washington.

District 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. He also said two arrests were made on Wednesday.

“We all saw the violence that was perpetrated against the protesters,” Newsham said. “We’re not going to tolerate this.”

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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 bar them from entering the United States.

Erdogan’s security detail returned with him to Turkey after his visit, so it was unclear if any would face any immediate US legal repercussions.

However, they could end up being threatened with arrest if they return to the US. If any are still in the country, they could be expelled if Turkey refuses to waive diplomatic immunity.

“They should bring themselves here to the US to answer these charges,” Newsham said.

Newsham recounted how video near the residence showed some attacking protesters with their fists and feet. Men in dark suits and others were recorded repeatedly kicking one woman as she lay curled on the pavement.

A man with a bullhorn was repeatedly kicked in the face. After officers struggled to protect the protesters and ordered the men in suits to retreat, several of the men dodged the officers and ran into a park to continue the attacks.

Source: News Agencies