WASHINGTON—Charges have been dropped against 11 of the 15 members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security team who were involved in the brutal beating of protesters on May 16 in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District Columbia confirmed that his office filed motions to dismiss charges against seven of the defendants on February 14, and against four others in November of last year, Reuters reported.
Assault charges are still pending against four remaining members of Erdogan’s security team: Ismail Dalkiran, Servet Erkan, Ahmet Karabay, and Mehmet Sarman, according to Reuters.
In December, prosecutors reached a plea deal, through which charges against the assailants, who were indicted in July, were reduced by dropping multiple bias and hate crimes charges.
Prosecutors in November requested a judge to drop the charges against four members of Erdogan’s security team, and the charges against seven others were dropped in February before now-outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson flew to Turkey to meet with Erdogan, reported The Hill.
U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal that the prosecutors were not pressured to drop the charges, saying that investigators had misidentified some suspects and did not have enough evidence against others.
“Erdogan sends his thugs to attack Americans on US soil. It’s documented on CNN and news outlets across the U.S. Yet he’s allowed to bully and bribe away charges for these crimes, just as Turkey’s done for a century and more, starting with the Armenian Genocide,” said Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “It’s appeasement – abject, craven, appeasement of a foreign dictator at the expense of our American freedoms.”
Hamparian was videotaping live at the scene of the May 16th attack, which took place in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence where President Erdogan was scheduled to have a closed-door meeting with think tank leaders. Hamparian’s video showed pro-Erdogan forces crossing a police line and beating peaceful protesters – elderly men and several women – who were on the ground bleeding during most of the attack.
Hamparian testified before a May 25th Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on this matter. Joining him at the hearing were Ms. Lusik Usoyan, Founder and President of the Ezidi Relief Fund; Mr. Murat Yusa, a local businessman and protest organizer; and Ms. Ruth Wedgwood, Edward B. Burling Professor of International Law and Diplomacy, at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Usoyan and Yusa were victims of the brutal assault on May 16th by President Erdogan’s bodyguards.
On June 6, with a vote of 397 to 0, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously condemned Turkey in response to the attacks, taking a powerful stand against Ankara’s attempts to export its violence and intolerance to America’s shores. H.Res.354, spearheaded by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), has received the public backing of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). On July 14th, the U.S. House also unanimously adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill, championed by Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman David Trott (R-MI), raising objections to a proposed U.S. sale of handguns for use by the very Erdogan security detail involved in the May 16th attack.
On July 19, senior members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX), Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Co-Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Representatives Jim Costa (D-CA) and John Sarbanes (D-MD) condemned Turkish President Erdogan’s violent actions – both in Turkey and the U.S. – during “A Stand for Free Speech” held at the site of the May 16th attacks. The press conference and rally was organized by the ANCA, in coordination with the Sheridan Circle May 16 Initiative (including many victims of the beatings), and a host of Kurdish, Armenian, Greek, Assyrian, and Christian groups including the American Kurdish Association (AKA), In Defense of Christians, American Hellenic Council, Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights, A Demand for Action, Hellenic American Leadership Council, AHEPA, and the Armenian Youth Federation.
The May 16 protest in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence was a continuation of a demonstration held earlier in the day in front of the White House, co-hosted by the ANCA. As President Trump met with President Erdogan. human rights and religious rights groups were joined by representatives of the Kurdish, Yezidi and Armenian communities to call attention to the Erdogan regime’s escalating repression against free press, the Kurdish and other ethnic communities, as well as Turkey’s ongoing obstruction of justice for the Armenian Genocide.