19 indicted over brawl outside Turkish embassy

In May a violent brawl broke out in front of the Turkish Embassy when security officials set upon a small group of protesters. Nine people were injured in the melee and two were arrested. Tuesday a grand jury indicted 19 people including 15 Turkish security officials. From Reuters:

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said in a statement charges had already been brought against 16 of the defendants, and Tuesday’s indictment added three to the list.

The three were named as Muhsin Kose, Yusuf Ayar and Harrettin Eren, adding they were among the 15 Turkish security officials indicted. The statement did not specify the others in the list.

“All 19 defendants were indicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, with a bias crime enhancement,” it said. The charge is punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison and bias enhancement could lead to longer sentences, the statement said.

The Turkish Embassy claimed the protesters, who were located across the street from the Embassy, were members of a terror group. But that’s not true according to DC’s Chief of Police:

In June, DC Police Chief Peter Newsham said that “there’s no indication at all that the protesters were a terrorist group.”

The indictment characterizes the protesters as anti-Erdogan, some of whom were Kurdish and calling for the release of an imprisoned leader of a pro-Kurdish political party, the HDP. According to protesters and video captured by the Voice of America Turkish service, men wearing suits and earpieces crossed a police line and attacked them.

Among the victims in the brawl was a 7-year-old who was pushed down and kicked. Only the two individuals who were arrested in June are in custody. The 15 Turkish security officials have all left the country and presumably won’t be back.

After the incident, police briefly detained two Turkish security officials. Turkey later summoned the U.S. Ambassador to make a formal complaint and demand a full investigation of their treatment. Turkey’s ambassador to the U.S. was also summoned to the State Department to discuss the incident.