WASHINGTON: US authorities said Thursday they have issued arrest warrants for 12 members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail accused of assaulting protesters during a street brawl in Washington.
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.
“We do not care particularly what your views are, what you support or what you do not support,” he added.
Video footage of the fracas shows Turkish security aides beating and kicking demonstrators, leaving nine people injured.
The State Department formally protested the attack to Ankara, registering its concern in the “strongest possible terms.”
Newsham did not say how the police hoped to arrest the 12, saying the State Department would determine how to execute the warrants.
In addition to the 12, warrants were issued for the arrest of two Canadian citizens who took part in the brawl. Two Turkish Americans were arrested at the scene on May 16, and two more were arrested on Wednesday.
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser condemned the attack strongly, saying it violated US Constitution’s first amendment right to peaceful protest.
“We host millions of people who come to the seat of their government to protest peacefully. We support them, we make sure that they are safe, but we also make sure that they follow our law,” Bowser said at a press conference.
“Anyone traveling to the United States will be held to that same standard,” she said.