18 Face Charges Over Attack Near Turkish Ambassador's Residence In D.C.
Video of Turkish security personnel appearing to punch, kick and club demonstrators in Washington, D.C., went viral and sparked outrage last month.
Now, the Metropolitan Police Department has announced that 18 people are facing charges in connection to the incident outside the Turkish ambassador's residence during a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Nine protesters were injured in what D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser described during a news conference Thursday as a "vicious attack."
Police arrested two people on the day of the incident and two others Wednesday. This is how those four people were identified in an MPD statement:
Outstanding warrants have been issued for the remaining 14 people — two Canadians and 12 Turkish citizens.
"When you have folks that are peacefully protesting here in Washington, D.C., which is a place where we welcome peaceful protest, and they are attacked for no reason, we think it's extremely important," MPD Chief Peter Newsham told reporters.
Newsham said police worked with the U.S. State Department and the Secret Service to identify the suspects. None of them are Turkish Embassy personnel, he added.
He called on those who have not been arrested to travel to the U.S. and present themselves.
Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it told the U.S. ambassador that it believes the decision to issue arrest warrants is "wrong, biased and lacks legal basis." It stated that the incident happened because of the "failure of local security authorities to take necessary measures."
In one of the episode's more inflammatory aspects, video emerged that appears to show Erdogan himself at the scene, sitting in a black Mercedes-Benz.
In the video posted by the Voice of America's Turkish Service, an aide leans into the car to speak to someone inside, as protesters can be heard chanting in the background. The aide then speaks to another man in a suit, who nods. Seconds later, the group of security personnel moves toward the demonstrators and starts to attack them.
The video then apparently shows Erdogan getting out of the car and watching for a few seconds. He then turns around, with his face in full view of the camera, and walks into the ambassador's residence.
When asked about the president's involvement, Newsham stated: "We don't have any information right now to suggest that we have probable cause to make an arrest of the president."
As The Two-Way has reported, "The demonstration was arranged by pro-Kurdish and Armenian groups protesting a range of Erdogan policies."
After the incident, the State Department said in a statement that it was concerned by the violence, saying, "Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest."
Here is the list of the 14 suspects with outstanding warrants, as provided by the Metropolitan Police Department:
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