WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the U.S. decision to charge Turkish security agents over melee in Washington (all times local):
Turkey’s foreign ministry has “invited” the U.S. ambassador in Ankara to condemn arrest warrants issued for a dozen Turkish security agents accused of attacking protesters during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Washington last month.
A ministry statement calls the decision “wrong, biased and lacking legal basis.” The Turkish undersecretary has told U.S. ambassador John Bass that police in Washington did not take security precautions against the protesters, who Turkey says were associated with outlawed Kurdish militants.
The ministry says, “Our citizens cannot be held responsible,” and argues the conflict would not have occurred if customary precautions for high-level meetings had been taken.
The ministry statement adds, “It has been emphasized to the U.S. ambassador that this decision, which is clearly the result of an investigation that was not objective and independent, is unacceptable.”
Turkey’s president has slammed the U.S. decision to arrest a dozen of his security guards and two others accused of taking part in a violent attack on protesters during his official visit to Washington, D.C., last month.
Speaking at a dinner to break the Ramadan fast in Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked, “what kind of a law is this?”
Relations were severely strained even before the incident, which came as Erdogan arrived May 16 at the Turkish ambassador’s residence after a White House meeting with President Donald Trump. Police said video showed security guards and some Erdogan supporters attacking a small group of protesters. Nine people were hurt.
Referring to his security detail, Erdogan said, “If they are not going to protect me, why would I bring them with me to America?”
Erdogan said the protesters were members of an outlawed Kurdish militant group and the U.S. police failed to act. He vowed to fight the decision on legal and political grounds.
The melee has become a major irritant in U.S.-Turkish ties.
Police say they’ve issued arrest warrants for a dozen Turkish security agents and two others accused of taking part in a violent altercation May 16 as Turkey’s president visited Washington.
District Police Chief Peter Newsham announced the arrest warrants at a news conference Thursday, saying nine agents, three Turkish police officers and two Canadians are being sought. He also said two arrests were made Wednesday.
“We all saw the violence that was perpetrated against the protesters,” Newsham said. “We’re not going to tolerate this.”
Relations were severely strained even before the melee, which came as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived at the Turkish ambassador’s residence after a White House meeting with President Donald Trump. Video showed security guards and some Erdogan supporters attacking protesters, leaving nine people hurt.