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31 August 2017, 01:25 | Colleen Roy
Several Turkish security officials indicted for attacking protesters during Erdogan visit to US
USA authorities have indicted 19 people, including 15 Turkish security officials, for attacking protesters who held demonstrations outside the Turkish Ambassador's residence in Washington DC on May 16, 2017 against the visit of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
16 of those charged had previously been indicted on June 13, with an additional 3, all Turkish security, added on Tuesday. Fifteen of the 19 are Turkish security guards. The Erdogan supporters punched and kicked the protesters, who numbered between 10 and 20. Police officers can be seen attempting to hold some of the aggressors back, dragging them to the other side of the street.
American officials strongly criticized Turkey's government and Erdogan's security forces for the violence; the State Department summoned Turkey's USA ambassador to complain.
The goons are accused of conspiring to attack Armenian and Kurdish demonstrators - which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison - as well as assaulting United States law enforcement who tried to intervene.
The security personnel and other Erdogan supporters allegedly charged through a police line towards a group of protesters gathered in northwest Washington's Sheridan Circle on May 16, throwing the protesters to the ground and kicking and punching them to the point where some lost consciousness, according to the indictment.
Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday criticized an indictment targeting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's security detail, saying it was "biased" and "purely political". Several also face charges of assault with a deadly weapon.
Turkey has repeatedly told US officials that security outside the ambassador's home was negligent and didn't ensure the safety of Erdogan's entourage amid sympathizers of an outlawed Kurdish militant group, according to the statement.
All 19 are charged with conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years.
"The members and associates of the conspiracy attacked the anti-Erdogan protesters because of their opposition to Mr. Erdogan, their support of the HDP, their support of ethnic Kurds and their belief that the protesters were ethnically Kurdish", the indictment states. It adds that the attackers "blatantly ignored American law enforcement commands to cease the violence".
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