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Three more Erdogan guards indicted for Washington brawl

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 29/08/2017
Erdogan hit back at the allegations in June, accusing US police of having allowed "terrorists" to protest [File: Michael Reynolds/Getty] © Provided by Al Jazeera Erdogan hit back at the allegations in June, accusing US police of having allowed "terrorists" to protest [File: Michael Reynolds/Getty]

A grand jury in the US capital has issued indictments for 19 people, including 15 identified as Turkish security officials, for attacking protesters in May 2017.

The indictments, announced on Tuesday, charge the defendants with attacking peaceful demonstrators who were protesting against the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on May 17.

All 19 are charged with conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, a felony punishable by a statutory maximum of 15 years in prison. Several face additional charges of assault with a deadly weapon.

Sixteen of the defendants had already been charged on June 13; Tuesday's indictment adds three new defendants, all Turkish security officials.

Videos show the Erdogan guards viciously beating and kicking protestors on the ground in the leafy "Embassy Row" section of downtown Washington.

All but two of the 19 remain at large. Two Turkish-American businessmen were arrested in June for their roles in the daylight attack on protestors and face an initial court hearing on September 7.

Of the other 17, two are Canadians, and the rest are Turkish nationals.

In June, Erdogan hit back at the allegations, accusing US police of having allowed "terrorists" to protest "50 metres from me" during his US visit.

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Erdogan claimed Kurdish PKK fighters and members of what Turkey calls the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO) were united in protest against him.

"Why would I bring my guards with me to the United States, if not to protect me?" he said in a speech in Ankara, adding that he will fight the charges "politically and judicially".

Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, said in June that the charges "send a clear message that the United States does not tolerate individuals who use intimidation and violence to stifle freedom of speech and legitimate political expression".

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