Published: Fri, June 16, 2017
World News | By Penny Hart

Arrest warrants out for Turkish agents, others in DC melee

United States authorities on Thursday announced arrest warrants had been issued for 12 members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's security detail for assaulting protesters in Washington last month, sparking a furious response from the Turkish leader.

Four other people, two Canadians and two Turkish Americans, were charged, D.C. police said. The measure directs the State Department, which assisted Washington police on its investigation, to waive diplomatic immunity.

A second suspect who also seen in videos kicking a protestor, Virginia resident Sinan Narin, was charged with aggravated assault.

Twelve of the people charged are Turkish security officers, and Erdogan is exceedingly unlikely to extradite them to the face trial. According to AP, seven of the men face felony charges and five face misdemeanor charges.

The two men attended a pro-Erdogan event outside Toronto's Turkish consulate 11 months ago Thursday in response to an anti-Erdogan coup.

DC police have reportedly identified 34 of the 42 people who were allegedly involved in the broad daylight melee. Voice of America's Turkish service released video showing the Turkish president observing from inside a vehicle while the Turkish security team clashed with the protesters. "Any further steps will be responsive and proportional to the charges", a State Department official said.

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Others involved in the brawl left the United States prior to the completion of the investigation and before arrest warrants could be obtained for them, a law enforcement official told CNN. "If they attempt to enter the United States they will be arrested", Newsham said.

Images of agents of a foreign government running violently amok in a leafy neighbourhood of the US capital caused outrage and demands for a strong reaction. The statement went further yet, claiming that the incident would not have taken place had the US authorities taken the "usual" measures and as such, Turkish citizens could not be held to blame.

Video of the protest showed security guards and some Erdogan supporters attacking a small group of protesters with their fists and feet. At the time, Erdogan was in the city meeting with President Donald Trump, who offered a warm welcome to Turkey's authoritarian leader with a lengthy history of human rights violations.

Senate and House members have also raised concerns about the recently announced $1.2 million sale of semi-automatic guns slated for use by Turkish President Erdognan's security detail, many of whom participated in the May 16th attacks. A video posted online showed men in dark suits chasing anti-government protesters and punching and kicking them as police struggled to intervene.

Despite all the ballyhoo about first amendment rights and Capitol Hill's eagerness to contrast American freedom of speech with Erdogan's strongman tactics, Turkey doesn't seem particularly embarrassed.

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