Senators Pen Letter To Turkish President

| by Simone Stover

Two senators have written a joint letter to the Turkish president in response to the incident that occurred outside of Turkish Ambassador Serdar Kilic's residence in Washington, D.C.

On May 16, video surfaced that appeared to show members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's security detail fighting with protestors outside of the residence of the Turkish ambassador, reports KPIX.

NBC News has also reported that new video released on May 18 appears to show Erdogan speaking to a guard. The guard appears to go on to speak with another individual, who appears to begin the fight. The video also reportedly shows Erdogan watching the fight from his car. 

On May 17, police said that two protesters had been arrested and that nine people had been hurt. In addition, the State Department confirmed that two members of the Turkish security detail had been briefly detained, but were later released.

The Turkish Embassy released a statement on May 18, claiming that the protestors were affiliated with a terrorist group. According to NBC News, no evidence was offered to support this assertion. 

"The demonstrators began aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the President," part of the statement read. "The Turkish-Americans responded in self-defense and one of them was seriously injured.  The violence and injuries were the result of this unpermitted, provocative demonstration." 

The statement also expressed hope that steps will be taken to prevent similar instances from occurring in the future. 

Action has been taken on the U.S. side as well, with the State Department condemning the event. 

"Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest," said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, according to NBC News. 

The State Department also confirmed to NBC News that Kilic was summoned to the State Department and met with Under Secretary Thomas A. Shannon Jr. on May 17. 

In addition, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona wrote a joint letter to Erdogan on May 18 to express their concern regarding the event.

"The actions of your staff violate the constitutional protections of freedom of the press and freedom of assembly enjoyed by all Americans," part of the letter read. "Your staff's blatant violation of these rights on American soil is an affront to those freedoms, and reflects poorly on your government."

The senators concluded the letter by stating, "We cannot turn a blind eye to these actions at home, and we urge you to hold accountable those members of your staff who violently attacked peaceful protestors in our nation's capital." 

According to NBC News, McCain also expressed his feelings regarding the event in an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on May 18.

"We should throw their ambassador the hell out of the United States of America," McCain said.

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