Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses during an attempted coup in Istanbul, Turkey July 16, 2016..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON - Federal prosecutors decided to dismiss charges against 11 of 15 members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's security team who had been charged in connection with a street brawl in May 2017 near Turkey's embassy in Washington.
The US Attorney's Office for the District Columbia filed motions to dismiss charges against seven of the defendants on Feb. 14 and against four others last November, spokesman William Miller said in an email.
Assault charges were still pending against four remaining members of Erdogan's security team: Ismail Dalkiran, Servet Erkan, Ahmet Karabay, and Mehmet Sarman.
Miller declined to elaborate on the reasons for the dismissal of the charges against the bulk of Erdogan's security detail. The motions were filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, a local court.
The May 16 clash between Turkish security personnel and demonstrators protesting against Erdogan's government strained relations between Turkey and the United States.
Eleven people were hurt. Prosecutors went on to charge members of Erdogan's security team, as well as others who were involved in the demonstration, with assault.
Turkey blamed the brawl outside its ambassador's residence on demonstrators linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party, while Washington's police chief referred to it as a "brutal attack" on peaceful protesters.
Turkey has been waging a war for decades against the banned party, also known as the PKK, in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast.
In September, Erdogan blasted the United States over a grand jury's August indictment of his security staff, calling it a "complete scandal."
In December, two men who were not associated with Turkish security personnel - Sinan Narin, 45, of McLean, Virginia, and Eyup Yildirim, 50, of Manchester, New Jersey - pleaded guilty to one count of felony assault in the D.C. Superior Court.
Miller said there were also assault charges still pending against two Canadian citizens, Mahmut Sami Ellialti and Ahmet Cengizhan Dereci, who have not been arrested.