ANCA Urges Trump Administration to Take Concrete Steps to Ensure Erdogan’s Bodyguards Stand Trial
ANKARA, WASHINGTON—Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized the U.S. move to issue arrest warrants for 12 of his bodyguards linked with a brawl outside the Turkish embassy in Washington last month.
Speaking at an iftar dinner in the capital Ankara on June 15, Erdogan said: “They have issued arrest warrants for 12 of my bodyguards. What kind of law is this?
“If my bodyguards cannot protect me then why am I bringing them to America with me?”
Erdogan also said the U.S. police failed to intervene the brawl, while urging for empathy over what would happen if the same brawl occurred in Turkey.
“The US police is doing nothing. Can you imagine what the response would have been if a similar incident had taken place in Turkey?” Erdogan added.
“Erdogan is doubling down on denial,” said the Armenian National Committee of America’s Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Drawing on the same playbook Ankara has used in Washington since the time of the Armenian Genocide, he is – against all evidence – blaming the victim and trying to bully everyone else into silence.”
“This time, in a fit of unprecedented anger and arrogance, Erdogan’s openly insulting U.S. law enforcement and unapologetically assuming for himself the right to deny Americans our inalienable rights and Constitutional freedoms,” continued Hamparian. “Having intimidated U.S. leaders into silence on the Armenian Genocide, basically enforcing a foreign gag-rule on what we can say about our own American history, he’s now targeting our values, telling us when we can and cannot speak out as U.S. citizens.”
The ANCA welcomed, as a meaningful step toward justice, Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s and Police Chief Peter Newsham’s in-depth investigation that led to 18 arrest warrants – including a dozen against Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s bodyguards — in connection to the May 16th attacks on peaceful protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence.
“We commend the efforts of Mayor Bowser, Chief Newsham and all the law enforcement agencies involved in taking this step toward bringing the perpetrators to justice, and look forward to continuing to work with the relevant authorities to identify all involved,” said ANCA Exective Director Aram Hamparian. “Law enforcement is doing its part; now it’s time for the Trump Administration to take action and demand that Turkey lift any claims to diplomatic immunity for those involved in this crime, so that criminal proceedings can move forward and justice can be served.”
During a June 15th press conference, Mayor Bowser stated “I condemn this attack. It was an affront to our values as Washingtonians and as Americans and it was a clear assault on the first amendment.”
DC Police Chief Peter Newsham announced the names of the dozen members of Turkish President Erdogan’s security detail who have been charged with the attacks. Two Turkish-Americans have already been arrested for assault, and two Turkish Canadians have also been charged.
In response to a question from The Armenian Weekly, Chief Newsham acknowledged that investigators are looking into the role of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the May 16 attack, but indicated that, despite the available video and other evidence, there is not yet sufficient probable cause to seek his arrest.
“We have dignitaries that are in and out of this city on a daily basis. Rarely have I seen, in my almost 28 years of policing, the type of thing that I saw on Sheridan Circle on that particular day,” said Chief Newsham. “You had peaceful demonstrators that were physically assaulted and the message to folks who are going to come to our city either from another state or from another country is that’s not going to be tolerated in Washington, DC.”