Turkey says U.S. decision to issue arrest warrants "wrong", "lacks legal basis"

Aaron Brown
June 16, 2017

"Here in DC we are committed to protecting and safeguarding [free assembly]". -Turkish relations. Eleven people were hurt in what Washington's police chief described as a "brutal attack" on peaceful protesters. H.Res.354, spearheaded by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), has received the public backing of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Turkish officials later claimed that the only reason the guards jumped in was because "police did not heed to Turkish demands to intervene".

"You had peaceful demonstrators that were physically assaulted in the District of Columbia", Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham said. "It's just something we're not going to tolerate".

The Turkish embassy said the protesters were affiliated with the PKK and had provoked "Turkish American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the president".

Newsham said the warrants were issued with the help of the state department, the U.S. secret service and the USA attorney's office in DC. The Trump administration has been forced into a balancing act in handling the incident as it involves a key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

Ellialti has also been charged with aggravated assault while Dereci faces a charge of misdemeanor assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner. He can be seen running past police officers and kicking at least two people who had fallen to the ground, including a man who had been kicked in the face. The State Department has said it had made its concern known to Turkey "in the strongest possible terms".

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"Any additional actions regarding execution of these warrants will be weighed by the State Department as appropriate under relevant laws and regulations", he added, noting the State Department has been helpful in supporting the investigation, and insisting no one from the Turkish embassy has been implicated.

It appeared that authorities may simply rely on the Turkish nationals turning themselves in, an outcome that is unlikely.

Police in Washington, DC announced Thursday they had brought charges and issued warrants against a dozen Turkish security officials involved in the outbreak of violence. Washington police plan to release images from the scene to help find out who the alleged attackers are.

Last month the State Department summoned Turkey's ambassador over the incident, which one official called "deeply disturbing".

The attack was an embarrassment for U.S. authorities, who invited Erdogan to meet Trump despite concerns over his government's increasingly authoritarian clampdown on his domestic media and opposition.

The call by DC authorities for the Turkish nationals to return to the United States to face charges comes in the face of a longstanding request from Ankara for the USA to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania-based cleric that Turkey accuses of plotting a failed coup past year. Video shows Erdogan watching the brawl go down, if not ordering it. With two men arrested on Wednesday and two arrested immediately following the incident, the total number facing charges is now 18.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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