ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Thursday a decision by US authorities to issue arrest warrants for 12 members of his security detail, accused of assaulting protesters during a brawl in Washington.
Shortly after he made his comments the Turkish foreign ministry announced that it had “invited” the US ambassador in Ankara to come to the ministry, adding that “this incident would not have occurred if the US authorities had taken the usual measures they take in similar high level visits.”
In the US earlier Thursday Washington Police Chief Peter Newsham said the 12 were identified in detailed video footage of the May 16 attack on Kurdish and Armenian protesters outside the residence of Turkey’s ambassador, following a meeting between Erdogan and President Donald Trump.
The men, all Turkish citizens, include nine Erdogan security guards and three Turkish police.
“In the United States and particularly in the District of Columbia, we hold our ability to peacefully protest as a sacred right,” Newsham said.
Erdogan, in his televised remarks, vowed to “fight politically and judicially” against the warrants, accusing US police of allowing “terrorists” to demonstrate against during his visit.
“They have incarcerated our citizens, How is that possible… What type of legislation is this? what type of law?” he said.
“Why would I take my guards to the United States if not to protect myself? Will Hans and George protect me?” he added, evoking names he regularly uses to castigate the West.
The Turkish foreign ministry, which stopped short of summoning the US ambassador, said it had conveyed to Washington’s envoy “that this decision taken by US authorities is wrong, biased and lacks legal basis”.
The “brawl” in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s Residence “was caused by the failure of local security authorities to take necessary measures… and therefore that Turkish citizens cannot be held responsible for the incident that took place”.
The ministry added that the “unacceptable” US decision “clearly was not taken as a result of an impartial and independent investigation”.