November 09, 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s planned visit to Washington this week is raising concerns about a repeat of violent protests from his 2017 trip, as recent court documents provide new details about the clashes between U.S. and Turkish security personnel.

More than a dozen Turkish security officials were first identified by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) two years ago as instigating violence against protesters who were demonstrating outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence during Erdoğan’s last visit to Washington, D.C., though charges were dropped against most of them.

The security officials left the country before they could be arrested. They were delivered to a waiting flight at Joint Base Andrews by State Department diplomatic security and Secret Service. One agent described it as the fastest “joint move and departure I’ve ever seen in my 16 years on the job,” according to a memo sent to the State Department the day after the clashes.

The memo was included in court documents in a lawsuit against Turkey on behalf of the victims of the attacks. It details violent outbursts against both civilians and U.S. security personnel who are charged with coordinating protection for foreign dignitaries with visiting security officers.

“These guys are out of control,” said Agnieszka Fryszman, a partner at Cohen Milstein, a firm representing five people in a lawsuit against Turkey for the assault on protesters 2½ years ago.

“This case is really important for the rights of American citizens to exercise their First Amendment rights in the United States, and it was just kind of a shocking, shocking disrespect for our Constitution and our citizens by Turkey,” Fryszman said.

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