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Supreme Court Declines to Hear Turkey’s Appeal on Foreign Sovereign Immunity

October 31, 2022

Attack Victims of Pres. Erdoğan’s Security Detail Will Have Their Day in Court

WASHINGTON DC – Today, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear the Republic of Turkey’s petition to review the unanimous July 27, 2021 opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which upheld the district court’s 2020 ruling denying Turkey’s  bid for immunity for the vicious attack by its security personnel on peaceful protestors May 16, 2017 at Sheridan Circle in Washington D.C. 

Turkey’s immunity arguments have now failed at every level of the U.S. court system.

On May 16, 2017, demonstrators were peacefully expressing opposition to human rights abuses by the Republic of Turkey against the Kurds, an ethnic minority facing persecution in that country, when Turkish security officials, several of whom were members of President Erdoğan’s personal security detail, pushed past U.S. law enforcement officers to attack and silence the demonstrators, repeatedly punching and kicking defenseless people. One woman was beaten so severely she lost consciousness and had a seizure. The attack was captured on video and widely covered by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other national and international news and media outlets.

The lawsuit, Kasim Kurd, et al. v. The Republic of Turkey (D.D.C.) sought to hold Turkey accountable for this outrageous violation of United States, District of Colombia, and international law. At the Supreme Court, the case was consolidated with Usoyan v. The Republic of Turkey. Both cases were represented by Allison Zieve of Public Citizen at the Supreme Court stage.

On January 25, 2021, Agnieszka Fryszman, counsel for Plaintiffs at Cohen Milstein, argued the case to a three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which later unanimously agreed with the District Court that Turkey was not entitled to foreign sovereign immunity for its attack on the protestors.  The United States Government submitted a brief in September recommending that certiorari be denied. In addition to Cohen Milstein, the plaintiffs are represented by Michael Tigar, Professor Emeritus of American University Washington College of Law, and Mark Sullivan and Joshua Colangelo-Bryan of Dorsey & Whitney LLP.

About Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC is a premier U.S. plaintiffs’ law firm, handling high-profile and often precedent-setting litigation, including cross-border Human Rights litigation. With over 100 attorneys across the country, Cohen Milstein has offices in Washington, DC, Chicago, IL, New York, NY, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, Philadelphia, PA, and Raleigh, NC. For additional information, please visit www.cohenmilstein.com or call (202) 408-4600.