WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two men have been arrested over a brawl in Washington between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s security personnel and protesters, and charges are planned against a dozen guards, police and a media report said on Wednesday.
The melee outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence during Erdogan’s visit to the United States last month strained U.S.-Turkish relations. Eleven people were hurt in what Washington’s police chief described as a “brutal attack” on peaceful protesters.
Washington police said in a brief statement that Sinan Narin of Virginia was accused of felony aggravated assault and misdemeanour assault. The second man, Eyup Yildirim of New Jersey, faces two felony assault charges and a misdemeanour assault charge.
Yildirim is in custody after an initial appearance before a federal magistrate in Newark, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey said by phone.
The police statement did not say if the men were supporters of Erdogan, part of his security detail or protesters.
Two people, at least one of them a protester, had previously been charged. A video posted online showed men in dark suits chasing anti-government protesters and punching and kicking them as police struggled to intervene.
The Turkish Embassy did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. It has blamed the violence on demonstrators linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which Turkey and the United States consider a terrorist group.
The New York Times reported that law enforcement officials planned to announce charges on Thursday against a dozen members of the Turkish president’s security detail.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Peter Newsham are scheduled to hold a news conference at 11:45 a.m. (1545 GMT) on Thursday to provide an update on the incident. The Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment.
In a statement, the State Department said it was committed to holding those responsible for the violence accountable.“ Any further steps will be responsive and proportional to the charges,” it said.
The fracas in the streets of the U.S. capital brought condemnation from members of the U.S. Congress and city officials. The State Department has said it had made its concern known to Turkey “in the strongest possible terms.”
The incident took place after Erdogan met U.S. President Donald Trump.
Additional reporting by Julia Harte; Editing by Bill Trott and Peter Cooney