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Turkish president vows to fight US arrest warrants

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Media captionThe violence took place outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington DC

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will fight US arrest warrants for his security team over a brawl last month in Washington.

He said he would politically challenge a dozen arrest warrants issued by local police, CNN Turk quoted him as saying.

Violence erupted between protesters and the president’s security personnel outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence during Mr Erdogan’s visit.

Police have since arrested two Turkish nationals living in the US.

Eyup Yildirim of New Jersey and Sinan Narin of Virginia were arrested on assault charges on Wednesday, according to police.

A day later, District Police Chief Peter Newsham announced arrest warrants for 12 Turks, including three police officers, plus two Canadians.

“We all saw the violence that was perpetrated against the protesters,” Chief Newsham said. “We’re not going to tolerate this.”

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Media captionInside President Erdogan’s US visit that turned violent

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said 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”.

Mr Erdogan’s security personnel returned to Turkey with him so it is unclear if they will face arrest.

CNN Turk gave no further details of Mr Erdogan’s response.

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Image caption The violence broke out during President Erdogan’s White House visit in May

The pro-Turkish government newspaper Daily Sabah quoted the president as saying: “We will do everything, politically, diplomatically, to resolve it.”

President Erdogan was in a car parked nearby and witnessed the May incident.

Mr Yildirim and Mr Narin were both identified as supporters of Mr Erdogan in a detailed New York Times report into the violence.

The newspaper said the men had travelled to Washington to support the Turkish president, but it was unclear if they had a formal connection to his security detail.

Video footage showed men in suits charging past police to kick and punch protesters. Two other men have previously been charged.

Eleven people were hurt in the fracas, nine of whom needed hospital treatment.

The US complained to Turkey about the incident and confirmed that Turkish security guards were involved.

However, the Turkish Embassy said protesters had provoked Turkish-Americans who were there to greet the president, and they in turn responded in self-defence.

BBC News – US & Canada

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