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Erdogan blasts ‘scandalous’ US indictment of Turkish bodyguards

Members of Turkey PM’s security detail charged with assaulting protesters during an official White House visit in May

Protestors rallying against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gesture toward his motorcade as it exits outside of the Brookings Institution, March 31, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)
Protestors rallying against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gesture toward his motorcade as it exits outside of the Brookings Institution, March 31, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday criticized the indictment in Washington of members of his security detail who were charged with assaulting protesters during an official White House visit in May.

A total of 19 people including Turkish security officials have been identified from video footage of the May 16 clashes with Kurdish protesters following a meeting between Erdogan and President Donald Trump.

Erdogan said in a televised address that the case was a “scandalous demonstration of how American justice works.”

More names were added to the case this week after US officials said videos showed Turkish security agents beating and kicking protestors on the ground in the “Embassy Row” section of downtown Washington DC.

Ankara’s foreign minister reacted angrily, protesting “in the strongest terms that such an unjust and biased indictment, with names of people that have never been to the US, has been accepted.”

It said it had conveyed its reaction to the US ambassador to Ankara.

A total of 21 counts of assault and hate crimes based on the victims’ ethnicity were levelled against the group by Washington DC district attorney Channing Phillips.

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after speaking to the press in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on May 16, 2017. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

All but two of the 19 “security personnel and supporters of Erdogan” remain at large. Two Turkish-American businessmen were arrested in June for their roles in the clash with protesters.

Of the 17 others, two are Canadians, and the remaining are Turkish citizens.

Relations between Ankara and Washington have been strained over the US arming Syrian Kurdish militia fighting against the Islamic State group in northern Syria.

The clashes during Erdogan’s visit exacerbated tensions between the NATO allies, with the Turkish leader accusing US police of having allowed “terrorists” to protest “50 meters from me.”

The Turkish foreign ministry repeated Ankara’s criticisms of “serious negligence” by US security authorities who did not “secure our delegation’s safety.

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