Press Releases


Washington, D.C.  U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) joined 17 other senators in urging the U.S. State Department to determine whether members of Turkey President Recep Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu’s security detail were involved in an attack on protesters outside of the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. which left nine hospitalized. The senators highlighted that President Erdogan’s security detail has an unacceptable history of violence toward protesters and urged Tillerson to hold the Turkish security detail accountable under U.S. law if it is found that they were involved in the attack.
 
“We write today to express our concern regarding the apparent involvement of members of the Turkish security detail accompanying President Recep Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu in a violent altercation outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. on May 16. If true, this is the second time in little more than a year that members of Turkish diplomatic security have intervened violently against protestors and members of the media in the United States. This is not acceptable,” wrote the senators. “We urge you to work expeditiously with the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department to identify the perpetrators of this assault and to determine whether members of President Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu’s security detail were involved. If their participation is confirmed, those responsible should be held accountable under applicable U.S. law.”
 
Joining Rubio, Murphy, and Johnson were Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jack Reed (D-RI), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Al Franken (D-MN). 
 
The full text of the senators’ letter is below:
 
The Honorable Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
 
Dear Secretary Tillerson:
 
We write today to express our concern regarding the apparent involvement of members of the Turkish security detail accompanying President Recep Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu in a violent altercation outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. on May 16.  Nine people were hospitalized—one in serious condition—due to the violence.  If true, this is the second time in little more than a year that members of Turkish diplomatic security have intervened violently against protestors and members of the media in the United States.  This is not acceptable.   
 
Videos and witness accounts of the altercation indicate men dressed in dark suits and wearing earpieces assaulted political protestors gathered outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence.  Press reports, including one by Turkey’s official news agency, indicate that these men were members of President Erdogan’s security detail who had accompanied him to the Ambassador’s residence.  If accurate, those individuals acted well outside of what is acceptable behavior by a professional security detail, especially that of a 65-year NATO ally.
 
If these were Turkish diplomatic security guards, their actions demonstrate a pattern of indefensible behavior.  In March 2016, members of President Erdogan’s detail behaved in a similarly heavy-handed fashion outside the Brookings Institution as Erdogan gave a speech.  The Brookings Institution reported that, “Erdogan’s security detail behaved unacceptably – they roughed up protesters outside the building and tried to drag away ‘undesired’ journalists.” 
 
We urge you to work expeditiously with the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department to identify the perpetrators of this assault and to determine whether members of President Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu’s security detail were involved.  If their participation is confirmed, those responsible should be held accountable under applicable U.S. law.  We look forward to working with you to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in the future.
 
Sincerely,