Turkey

Felony charges for 2 men in D.C. attack on Turkey protesters

Nearly a month after a group of protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C., were attacked and injured, two men have been charged with assault.

D.C. police say Sinan Narin of Virginia is charged with felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor assault, and Eyup Yildirim of New Jersey is charged with two counts of felony assault and one count of misdemeanor assault. Police did not make it clear whether the men are Turkish nationals living in the U.S. or Turkish-Americans.

The attack occurred May 16 when members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s security detail, along with other onlookers, appeared to wade into a group of Kurdish protesters; 11 people were injured. In one video taken during the attack, Erdoğan appears to look on as the attack occurs.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham later characterized the incident as a “brutal attack on peaceful protesters.” Both his force and the State Department have been investigating it for the past month.

Narin posted a video of the attack on Facebook a day after it took place:

https://www.facebook.com/sinan.narin.75/videos/vb.100001209830673/1480558058661174/

Police arrested two civilians May 16, though it’s not clear if they were Narin and Yildirim. In the days following, a State Department spokesperson told VICE News that two members of Erdoğan’s security detail had also been briefly detained and released.

The House unanimously passed a bill last week condemning the Turkish government for the attack. Lawmakers have called on the U.S. State Department to halt a $1.6 million sale of semi-automatic Sig Sauer pistols to Turkey intended for “the agency tasked with protecting the president.” And in a statement sent to VICE News Wednesday, the State Department reaffirmed that it found the Turkish beating of protesters during Erdoğan’s visit “troubling.”

In a New York Times analysis of video of the attack, Narin and Yildirim appear to be onlookers who joined in the fray; Yildirim appears to tell a police officer that he’s “an American citizen and a taxpayer.” If the men, however, are Turks connected to the Turkish diplomatic mission, they may be given diplomatic immunity, in which case the State Department can ask the Turkish government to waive it or simply expel the men from the U.S.

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