Erdogan says Trump apologized for indictment of Turkish staff over brawl… but did he?
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Donald Trump apologized after charges were filed against Turkish security personnel for attacking peaceful protesters in Washington DC. However, a White House spokesperson says no apology was ever made.
Speaking to PBS NewsHour, Erdogan said that "President Trump called me about a week ago about this issue.
"He said that he was sorry, and he told me that he was going to follow up on this issue when we come to the United States within the framework of an official visit."
Erdogan was referring to 15 Turkish security officials who were indicted by a US grand jury for attacking peaceful pro-Kurdish protesters in May. The incident took place outside the house of the Turkish ambassador to the US, where Erdogan was staying during a visit to Washington DC.
However, the Turkish leader said the protesters weren't actually peaceful, but were "insulting us, and they were screaming and shouting.”
"The police failed to intervene properly. And similar protests were seen around the White House as well when we were inside of the embassy residence. The protesters were very close to my car, to my vehicle."
He went on to accuse the protesters of being PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) and FETO (Fetullah Terrorist Organization) "terrorists."
Erdogan said that although the US police officers were "officers of the state, not the federal government," they were "in charge of maintaining safety around me and security. They failed to do that."
At that moment, according to Erdogan, his security guards "came to his aid" and "made sure that everything was safe and secure” around him.
Erdogan, who is currently in New York for the annual UN General Assembly gathering, said he will be meeting with Trump on Thursday to "talk about these developments in a very extensive fashion.
"I hope and pray that justice will be served as soon as possible, because I know that the United States is very sensitive in terms of judiciary and in terms of the rule of law and the legal aspects," he said.
Meanwhile, a White House official has spoken out against Erdogan's claim of a Trump apology, telling CNBC that the two leaders "discussed a wide range of issues but there was no apology."
Erdogan's recollection of the event is far from what the District of Columbia Attorney's Office said in a statement at the time, noting that the defendants "were indicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, with a bias crime enhancement."
Video footage circulated after the brawl showed men in suits viciously attacking the protesters, pushing them to the ground, and kicking some of them in the head.
The incident also led the US to pull out of a major arms deal with Turkey on Monday, which would have seen Ankara purchase $1.2 million in weapons for presidential security guards, including hundreds of semi-automatic handguns and ammunition.
Washington's withdrawal from the deal prompted Erdogan to slam the US for choosing to instead "give weapons to terrorists," referring to its decision to arm Syrian Kurds – a move which the White House believes is essential to seizing the last major Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) stronghold of Raqqa.