14 ar­rest war­rants is­sued for Turk­ish se­cu­rity of­fi­cers.

Turk­ish se­cu­rity per­son­nel face mul­ti­ple charges

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY LAURA KELLY

Metropoli­tan Po­lice an­nounced Thurs­day that they had ar­rested four peo­ple and is­sued ar­rest war­rants for 14 oth­ers in con­nec­tion to at­tacks by Turk­ish se­cu­rity per­son­nel on U.S. pro­test­ers last month near the Turk­ish am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence.

The war­rants are for 13 men and one woman who were part of Pres­i­dent Tayyip Re­cep Er­do­gan’s se­cu­rity de­tail. Po­lice also is­sued war­rants for two Cana­dian na­tion­als.

Nine peo­ple and a po­lice of­fi­cer were wounded May 16 in a melee at Sheridan Square in North­west. Video footage cap­tured by news cam­eras and cell­phones showed peace­ful, pro-Kur­dish demon­stra­tors be­ing sur­rounded or pushed to the ground and then kicked, punched and choked by mem­bers of Mr. Er­do­gan’s se­cu­rity team.

Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence Thurs­day, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in­ves­ti­ga­tors com­pared screen shots of video footage with visas and pass­port images to iden­tify the at­tack­ers. She praised D.C. po­lice, the Se­cret Ser­vice, the State De­part­ment and the U.S. At­tor­ney for the Dis­trict of Columbia for work­ing to­gether to iden­tify the per­pe­tra­tors.

Po­lice are ex­pected to re­lease video footage and pho­to­graphs of at­tack­ers they have yet to iden­tify, and ask for the pub­lic’s help in mak­ing the iden­ti­fi­ca­tions.

“We take our po­si­tion in the United States, as the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, very se­ri­ously,” Miss Bowser said. “We host over mil­lions of peo­ple who come to the seat of their gov­ern­ment to protest peace­fully. We sup­port them, we make sure they are safe, but we also make sure they fol­low our laws and — cer­tainly — any­one trav­el­ing to the United States will be held to that same stan­dard. We will de­fend the First Amend­ment, and we will make sure that our laws are be­ing en­forced.”

Metropoli­tan Po­lice Chief Peter New­sham added that sus­pects who are part of Mr. Er­do­gan’s se­cu­rity team are not pro­tected by diplo­matic im­mu­nity and will be ar­rested im­me­di­ately if they at­tempt to en­ter the United States.

The U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice for the Dis­trict of Columbia also re­leased a list of the ac­cused — which in­clude nine Turk­ish se­cu­rity of­fi­cers, three Turk­ish po­lice of­fi­cers and two Cana­dian na­tion­als.

The charges in­clude felony ag­gra­vated as­sault, pun­ish­able by up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $25,000, or both; felony as­sault with sig­nif­i­cant bod­ily in­jury, pun­ish­able by a max­i­mum of three years in prison, a fine of up to $12,500, or both; and mis­de­meanor sim­ple as­sault, which can lead to 180 days in jail, a fine up to $1,000 or both.

Chief New­sham did not com­ment on whether po­lice will pur­sue ex­tra­di­tion.

“If they think they didn’t do any­thing wrong or that their ac­tions were jus­ti­fied — I cer­tainly do not feel that way my­self — but they should bring them­selves to the United States to an­swer these charges,” the chief said.

In ear­lier state­ments, Turk­ish of­fi­cials claimed that pro-Er­do­gan sup­port­ers were pro­voked and de­fended them­selves against at­tacks by demon­stra­tors af­fil­i­ated with the PKK, a Kur­dish group des­ig­nated by Tur­key and the U.S. a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Chief New­sham re­it­er­ated that the proKur­dish demon­stra­tors were peace­ful and ex­er­cis­ing their First Amend­ment rights to as­sem­ble, and that po­lice had no in­di­ca­tion they were ter­ror­ists.

“In Wash­ing­ton, D.C. we do not care par­tic­u­larly what your views are, what you sup­port or what you do not sup­port,” he said. “Our role in this gov­ern­ment and our role as a po­lice de­part­ment is to make sure that peo­ple do so safely, es­pe­cially if you’re peace­fully demon­strat­ing it doesn’t make a dif­fer­ence what your demon­strat­ing about.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Re­porters photograph wanted posters of peo­ple fac­ing charges in Wash­ing­ton on Thurs­day about the May 16 fight out­side the Turk­ish am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence dur­ing Pres­i­dent Tayyip Re­cep Er­do­gan’s visit. Po­lice say they’ve is­sued war­rants for se­cu­rity agents and two oth­ers.

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