US drops charges for most of Erdogan's bodyguards


Federal prosecutors dismiss charges against 11 of 15 members of Erdogan's security team involved in street brawl in May 2017

Erdogan supporters clash with protesters near the White House in Washington (screengrab)
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Last update: 
Friday 23 March 2018 11:15 UTC

Federal prosecutors decided on Thursday to dismiss charges against 11 of 15 members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's security team who had been charged in connection with a street brawl in May 2017 near Turkey's embassy in Washington.

The US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia filed motions to dismiss charges against seven of the defendants on 14 February and against four others last November, spokesperson William Miller said in an email.

Assault charges were still pending against four remaining members of Erdogan's security team: Ismail Dalkiran, Servet Erkan, Ahmet Karabay and Mehmet Sarman.

Miller declined to elaborate on the reasons for dismissing charges against the bulk of Erdogan's security detail. The motions were filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, a local court.


The 16 May clash between Turkish security personnel and demonstrators protesting against Erdogan's government strained relations between Turkey and the United States.

Eleven people were hurt. Prosecutors went on to charge members of Erdogan's security team, as well as others who were involved in the demonstration, with assault.

DC police officials said Erdogan’s bodyguards attacked peaceful protesters, according to DC-based media outlet The Hill.

US authorities said to the Wall Street Journal that prosecutors involved in the case did not feel pressured to scuttle the charges and added that some of the suspects were either misidentified or that there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute them.  

Turkey blamed the brawl outside its ambassador's residence on demonstrators linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party, while Washington's police chief referred to it as a "brutal attack" on peaceful protesters.

Turkey has been waging a war for decades against the banned party, also known as the PKK, in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast.

In September, Erdogan blasted the United States over a grand jury's indictment of his security staff, calling it a "complete scandal".

In December, two men who were not associated with Turkish security personnel - Sinan Narin, 45, of McLean, Virginia, and Eyup Yildirim, 50, of Manchester, New Jersey - pleaded guilty to one count of felony assault in the DC Superior Court.

Miller said there were assault charges still pending against two Canadian citizens, Mahmut Sami Ellialti and Ahmet Cengizhan Dereci, who have not been arrested.

On Thursday, after news of the dropped charges was announced, Erdogan and Trump agreed in a phone call to address thorny issues that have tarnished relations between the two allies, Erdogan's spokesman said.