The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is upset with the U.S. after 12 of his bodyguards were charged with assault for attacking peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. last month.
In a blistering speech at an Iftar dinner event on Thursday, Erdogan questioned the legality of the charges and claimed that his bodyguards were protecting him from physical harm.
“They have issued arrest warrants for 12 of my bodyguards. What kind of law is this?” Erdogan said in the speech, according to Hurriyet Daily News.
“If my bodyguards cannot protect me then why am I bringing them to America with me?”
Earlier on Thursday, Washington, D.C. police chief Peter Newsham announced charges against nine Turkish security officers, three Turkish national police officers, two Turkish-Americans and two Turkish-Canadians. Newsham said that the security and police officers will be arrested if they re-enter the U.S.
In his speech, Erdogan accused the Washington, D.C. Metro police department of failing to corral a small group of Kurdish protesters gathered outside of the Turkish ambassador’s residence. He claimed that the protesters are supporters of PKK, a Kurdish separatist party that Turkey considers a terrorist group. (RELATED: DC Police Issue Arrest Warrants For Erdogan Bodyguards)
He also suggested that the protesters posed a threat to his physical safety. But undercutting that idea is video showing Erdogan watching his bodyguards as they attacked.
Videos showed Erdogan sitting in the back of a Mercedes Benz and speaking with one of his bodyguards moments before the attacks began. The assault started after Erdogan appeared to pass instructions to the bodyguard who then passed them to another member of the security detail.
The videos then show a group of Erdogan’s bodyguards and supporters barreling across the street in front of the residence to where the protesters were staged. Members of the Erdogan delegation were then seen punching, kicking and stomping the protesters, leaving nine injured.
One of Erdogan’s closest bodyguards, a man named Servet Erkan, was then seen on video punching protesters. Another member of the security detail charged on Thursday is Ismail Dalkiran. He was recorded choking a female protester named Ceren Borazan. Borazan says that Dalkiran, who she first identified for The Daily Caller, threatened to kill her.
Erkan was also charged on Thursday.
Erdogan also referred to two Turkish-American supporters who were arrested and charged with assault for their roles in the assault.
“They have incarcerated our citizens. How is that possible?” Erdogan complained. “What type of legislation is this? What type of law?”
He appeared to be referring to Eyup Yildirim and Sinan Narin. The men, who live in New Jersey and Virginia, respectively, were seen on video kicking a stomping protesters, including a Kurdish activist named Lucy Usoyan. (RELATED: US Marshals Arrest Two Involved In Turkish Embassy Beating)
Usoyan sustained a head injury and went to the hospital. Both men were charged with aggravated assault.
Erdogan’s rant echoed a statement issued by the Turkish foreign ministry. The statement asserted that the arrest warrants were “wrong, biased” and without legal basis.
“That the brawl in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s Residence was caused by the failure of local security authorities to take necessary measures; that this incident would not have occurred if the U.S. authorities had taken the usual measures they take in similar high level visits and therefore that Turkish citizens cannot be held responsible for the incident that took place,” the statement said.