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Twelve Turkish bodyguards charged in brutal assault of Erdogan protesters

Photo: D.C. Police

D.C. police have issued a warrant for 12 on Turkish security team involved in May brawl, the Washington Post reports.

Authorities in the District said Thursday that they’ve criminally charged a dozen members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security team who authorities say attacked protesters outside the ambassador’s residence in May.

At a news conference, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and Police Chief Peter Newsham explained the charges against the suspects, who are all believed to be in Turkey.

“I condemn this attack,” Bowser said, vowing that the city would “defend the First Amendment.”

The charges come nearly a month after the clashes at Sheridan Circle along Massachusetts Avenue’s Embassy Row outside the residence of the Turkish ambassador. Police and other officials say various members of visiting Erdogan’s security team, some of them armed, attacked a group protesting his regime as police struggled to restore order and bystanders recorded with phones.

In an affidavit to support an arrest warrant, D.C. Police wrote, “during the course of the official Turkish visit, Turkish security personnel and others assaulted protestors and U.S. law enforcement officers in at least three separate incidents.”

Authorities said they identified the suspects by comparing video of the melee to passport and visa images, using facial recognition techniques.

 

D.C. police arrested two people at the altercation, at least one whom identified himself as a supporter of Erdogan. Police said on Tuesday they had arrested two additional suspects — Sinan Narin, of Virginia, charged with aggravated assault, and Eyup Yildirim, of New Jersey, charged with assault with significant bodily injury and aggravated assault. Narin is expected to be in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday; Yildirim was awaiting extradition from New Jersey.

Authorities declined to elaborate on the charges against Yildirim and Narin.

 Turkish officials have admitted that security officers participated in the fracas but said they were acting in self defense, contending that protesters started the brawl and that D.C. police refused to arrest them. Turkey also alleged that terrorist sympathizers were among the demonstrators who had gathered on Massachusetts Avenue’s Embassy Row.

Law enforcement and legal experts have said bringing the attackers to justice could be difficult because Turkey is unlikely to extradite people or make them available for interviews.

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