Turkey has questioned the merits of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) indictment against Turkish security personnel accused of brawling with protesters during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the American capital in May, decrying the charges as “unfounded” and “biased.”
“We protest in the strongest terms that such an unjust and biased indictment, including the names of people who have never even been to the U.S., has been accepted,” declared the Turkish Foreign Ministry a statement issued Wednesday, adding that it had lodged a complaint with the U.S. ambassador to Ankara, reports Hurriyet Daily News.
Turkey “reserved the right to take action via legal means” against the “unfounded” charges, added the ministry.
Channing Phillips, the district attorney in Washington, D.C., has leveled a total of 21 counts of assault and hate crimes based on the victims’ ethnicity against the security officers assigned to Erdogan during his trip to the U.S. in May, reports Hurriyet Daily News.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry linked the protesters to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Turkey-based communist-separatist group that has been designated a terrorist organization by both Turkey and the United States, among other NATO allies.
President Erdogan accused the U.S. police of allowing “terrorists” to protest “50 meters from me.”
The fight in the American capital has further exacerbated tensions between NATO allies Turkey and the United States.
Despite being part of the international U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), Turkey and the United States find themselves on opposite sides of a conflict in Syria where Turkish allies have attacked American forces.
According to Hurriyet Daily News, authorities identified 19 people, including the Turkish security officials, from video footage of the May 16 brawl that took place outside the residence of Turkey’s ambassador to Washington, D.C., following a meeting between Erdogan and the U.S. president.
Citing the Turkish ministry, the news agency reveals that two of the 19 “security personnel and supporters of Erdogan” remain at large.
Authorities have already arrested two Turkish-Americans for their alleged roles in the fight. Of the remaining 17, two are reportedly Canadians, and the rest are Turkish citizens.
“Three more names were added to the case on Aug. 29,” on top of the 19 people identified in the video, points out Hurriyet.