A US grand jury indicted 19 people [text, PDF], including 15 Turkish security officials, on Tuesday for attacking protesters during a visit to the White House by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan [official website] in May. The protesters gathered outside of the Turkish ambassador’s home after he met with US President Donald Trump and were attacked by the 19 defendants. All are charged [AP report] with conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, and several others face additional charges of assault with a deadly weapon. It is unclear whether members of Erdoğan’s security detail who returned with him to Turkey will face legal repercussions in the US.
The May disturbance further strained US-Turkey relations. The two countries have clashed over the US decision to provide weapons to Syrian Kurdish rebels fighting the Islamic State group in Syria. Turkey considers the fighters to be an extension the Kurdish insurgency in Turkey, known as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) [BBC backgrounder], which has been deemed an illegal terrorist organization by the Turkish government. Turkey claims [AP report] that the protesters who waited for Erdoğan following his visit to the White House were themselves associated with the PKK. US officials strongly criticized the Turkish government after the violence, and both countries have summoned each other’s ambassadors to exchange complaints concerning the altercation.