Nineteen People Indicted for Turkish Attack on Peaceful Protesters in Washington

A total of 19 people, including 15 identified as Turkish security officials, were indicted Tuesday by a grand jury in the USA capital for attacking protesters in May 2017 during a US visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

16 of those charged had previously been indicted on June 13, with an additional 3, all Turkish security, added on Tuesday. Seventeen of those accused remain at large while two of defendants who were arrested in June will face an initial court hearing on September 7.

Calling the decision "biased, unfounded and purely political", the ministry reiterated that the incident that took place outside the Turkish embassy on May 16, 2017 in Washington was caused by the negligence of US authorities. "The Turkish-Americans responded in self-defence and one of them was seriously injured".

"All 19 defendants were indicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, with a bias crime enhancement", CNN quoted the District of Columbia Attorney's Office statement.

Video recorded of Erdogan during the incident suggests that he may have ordered his bodyguards to launch the strike.

American officials strongly criticised Turkey's government and Erdogan's security forces for the violence; the State Department summoned Turkey's U.S. ambassador to complain.

Fifteen of the defendants are bodyguards and Turkish police officers who work for Erdogan.

"Why would I bring my guards with me to the United States, if not to protect me?" he said in a speech in Ankara, in which he vowed to fight the charges "politically and judicially".

President Erdogan himself criticised the initial indictment decisions in June, accusing U.S. police of "terrorists" to protest "50 metres from me". Many were indicted on additional charges.

The indictment characterizes the protesters as anti-Erdogan, some of whom were Kurdish and calling for the release of an imprisoned leader of a pro-Kurdish political party, the HDP. The Turkish Foreign Ministry then summoned America's ambassador to protest the treatment of the detained security guards. ".indictment. -.aug.29, .2017.pdf" target="_blank">indictment also recognized that the attackers "significantly outnumbered" the anti-Erdogan protesters and "blatantly ignored American law enforcement commands to cease the violence".

  • Joey Payne