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18 Face Charges Over Melee Near Turkish Ambassador's Residence In D.C.

Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham told reporters Thursday in Washington, D.C., that "it's extremely important" to address attacks on peaceful protests.

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 brawl 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:

  • Jalal Kheirabaoi of Virginia, charged with misdemeanor assault on a police officer
  • Ayten Necmi of New York, charged with felony aggravated assault
  • Sinan Narin of Virginia, charged with felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner
  • Eyup Yildirim of New Jersey, charged with felony assault with significant bodily injury, felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner

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 brawl happened because of the "failure of local security authorities to take necessary measures."

In one of the melee'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:

  • Turgut Akar, a Turkish security official, charged with misdemeanor assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner
  • Ismail Dalkiran, a Turkish security official, charged with misdemeanor assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner
  • Servet Erkan, a Turkish security official, charged with felony assault with significant bodily injury and misdemeanor assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner
  • Tugay Erkan, a Turkish security official, charged with felony assault with significant bodily injury and misdemeanor assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner
  • Ahmet Karabay, a Turkish security official, charged with misdemeanor assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner
  • Feride Kayasan, a Turkish security official, charged with misdemeanor assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner
  • Lutfu Kutluca, a Turkish security official, charged with misdemeanor assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner
  • Mustafa Murat Sumercan, a Turkish security official, charged with felony assault with significant bodily injury and misdemeanor assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner
  • Gokhan Yildirim, a Turkish security official, charged with felony assault with significant bodily injury
  • Ismail Ergunduz, a Turkish security official, charged with felony assault with significant bodily injury and misdemeanor assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner
  • Mehmet Sarman, a Turkish security official, charged with felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor assault or threatened assault in a Menacing Manner
  • Hamza Yurteri, a Turkish security official, charged with felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor assault or threatened assault in a menacing Manner
  • Mahmut Sami Ellialti, charged with felony aggravated assault and felony assault with significant bodily injury
  • Ahmet Cengizham Dereci, charged with felony assault with significant bodily injury and misdemeanor assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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