- Federal prosecutors dismissed charges against 11 of the 15 members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security team charged in connection with a May 2017 street brawl in Washington DC.
- The charges were dropped on February 14, the day before former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson flew to Ankara and met with Erdogan.
- US officials have denied the charges were dropped for political reasons.
Federal prosecutors have decided to dismiss charges against 11 of 15 members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security team after they were charged in connection with a street brawl in May 2017 near the Turkish embassy in Washington.
A spokesman for the US 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.
Eleven people, including one police officer, were injured in the May 2017 brawl outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington DC. Many of the injured were US citizens, and a previously published video appears to have shown Erdogan’s security guards attacking protestors after speaking with him.
The charges dropped on February 14 came the day before former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson flew to Ankara and met with Erdogan, according to CNN.
During the talks between Tillerson and Erdogan, the former secretary of state told the Turkish leader that the dropped charges were an example of how the US had addressed their grievances, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Turkey has been upset with the US since at least 2016 after it refused to extradite Fetullah Gulen, who has been accused of fomenting the attempted coup that year. The US also starting arming Kurdish forces in Syria, which Turkey views as an extension of the PKK.
CNN reported that Tillerson wasn’t accompanied with a translator, aides, or note-takers.
At the same time, US officials said the charges were dropped because investigators misidentified some of the suspects and didn’t have enough evidence on others, WSJ reported.
Assault charges are still pending against four remaining members of Erdogan’s security team: Ismail Dalkiran, Servet Erkan, Ahmet Karabay, and Mehmet Sarman.