2 in US court over Washington protest fight

Suspects charged with assaults during Turkish president's visit to US capital

2 in US court over Washington protest fight

Two suspects linked to the violence outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington have appeared in court on assault charges, police said late Wednesday.

The suspects -- identified by police as 49-year-old Ayten Necmi and Jalal Kheirabaoi, 42 -- were arrested Tuesday after fighting broke out between rival groups of protesters following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s arrival at the residence.

Kheirabaoi, from Fairfax, Virginia, is alleged to have assaulted a police officer while Necmi is accused of aggravated assault, Police Officer Hugh Crew told Anadolu Agency in an email.

Both were later released on bail pending a further hearing on June 4.

According to police, 11 people were injured Tuesday, including a police officer. Nine were hospitalized.

Clashes broke out when a group of male and female protesters began chanting anti-Turkish slogans as Erdogan, who had earlier met President Donald Trump at the White House, arrived.

Some of the protesters carried posters and flags linked to the PKK terrorist organization, an Anadolu Agency correspondent reported.

Counter-protesters on the other side of the road waved Turkish flags before fighting broke out between the groups as police attempted to stop the violence.

“Groups affiliated with the PKK, which the U.S. and Turkey have designated as a terrorist organization, gathered yesterday without permit in Sheridan Circle in the immediate vicinity of the ambassador’s residence,” the Turkish embassy said in a statement late Wednesday.

It added that demonstrators began “aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet” Erdogan.

The statement said a Turkish-American was “seriously injured” in self-defense.

“The violence and injuries were the result of this unpermitted, provocative demonstration,” the embassy added. It demanded “appropriate measures” to ensure “similar provocative actions causing harm and violence do not occur”.

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