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United States indictment against Erdoğan's security detail outside Turkish embassy 'purely political': MFA

31 August 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. -A grand jury in the US capital issued indictments against 19 people, including 15 members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's security detail, for their brutal attack against peaceful protesters gathered in front of the Turkish Ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C. on May 16, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

They are accused of conspiring to attack Armenian and Kurdish demonstrators - an offence punishable by up to 15 years in jail - as well as assaulting USA police who intervened.

ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian was videotaping live at the scene of the May 16 attack, which took place in front of the Turkish Ambassador's residence where President Erdogan was scheduled to have a closed-door meeting with think tank leaders.

According to an Associated Press report, 15 of the individuals facing formal charges are Turkish security officials, who were seen roughing up protesters in various videos posted after the skirmish. "The Turkish-Americans responded in self-defence and one of them was seriously injured". All but two of the people indicted Tuesday remain at large.

President Erdogan himself criticised the initial indictment decisions in June, accusing U.S. police of "terrorists" to protest "50 metres from me".

After the incident, police briefly detained two Turkish security officials.

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Despite the indictments, it is unlikely that most of the defendants will face actual jail time.

The 19 "were members and associates of a group of political allies - security personnel and supporters of Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan", it said. Erdogan was in the US for a meeting with President Donald Trump at the time.

While Tuesday's indictment confirmed that activists involved in May's attack supported Kurdish independence, court documents insisted that the protest was peaceful.

In a statement the ministry said that it protests the decision "in the strongest terms", and has conveyed its disapproval to the American ambassador.

The conspiracy to commit a crime of violence charge carries a maximum of 15 years in prison, and the bias enhancements add another 7 ½ years if found true.

Turkey's official Anadolu news agency said at the time that Erdogan's security team moved in to disperse the protesters because "police did not heed to Turkish demands to intervene".

United States indictment against Erdoğan's security detail outside Turkish embassy 'purely political': MFA