Washington, Aug 30 (AFP) The US Justice Department charged three more bodyguards of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for assaulting protestors in Washington in May in a brawl that marred an official White House visit.
In a fresh indictment, a total of 19 members of Erdogan’s security detail were identified from detailed video footage of the May 16 daylight attack on Kurdish and Armenian protesters outside the residence of Turkey’s ambassador, following a meeting between Erdogan and President Donald Trump.
Videos show the Erdogan guards viciously beating and kicking protestors on the ground in the leafy “Embassy Row” section of downtown Washington.
The three names added to the case were Turkish security officials Muhsin Kose, Yusuf Ayar, and Harrettin Eren.
A total of 21 counts of assault and hate crimes based on the victims’ ethnicity were leveled against the group by Washington, DC district attorney Channing Phillips.
The indictment accused the group of “conspiracy… to: (1) assault and kick protesters who were assembled in front of the Turkish Chief of Mission Residence … and (2) assault American law enforcement officers who attempted to stop the continued assault against the protesters.” The 19 “were members and associates of a group of political allies – security personnel and supporters of Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan,” it said.
“The members and associates of this group were bound together by their aversion towards a group of persons who oppose Mr. Erdogan.”
All but two of the 19 remain at large. Two Turkish- American businessmen were arrested in June for their roles in the daylight attack on protestors. Of the other 17, two are Canadians, and the rest Turkish nationals.
In June, Erdogan lashed back at the allegations, accusing US police of having allowed “terrorists” to protest “50 meters from me” during his US visit.
“Why would I bring my guards with me to the United States, if not to protect me?” he said in a speech in Ankara, adding that he will fight the charges “politically and judicially.” (AFP)
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.