Two people have been arrested in connection with a massive brawl that left a dozen people, including a police officer, injured last month outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, DC.
The two men arrested were identified as Sinan Narin and Eyup Yildirim. Both were charged with felony and misdemeanor assault for their role in May 16 fighting.
DC Metropolitan Police spokesperson Rachel Reid told BuzzFeed News that both men are US citizens. Yildirim is from New Jersey, where he is currently awaiting extradition, and Narin is from Virginia. Police did not say where the men were arrested or how investigators zeroed in on them in the weeks following the fight.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a US State Department official called the fight outside the embassy "troubling" and said "we are committed to holding those responsible for the violence on May 16 accountable."
"Now that charges have been filed, the Department will weigh additional actions for the named individuals, as appropriate under relevant laws and regulations," the statement added.
The brawl erupted during a protest outside the embassy shortly after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with President Trump at the White House. Video footage showed armed men in uniforms and suits assailing demonstrators as a handful of police scrambled to subdue the crowd.
Video footage also showed Erdogan standing nearby watching the violence from behind a wall of security guards.
In the aftermath, the State Department confirmed that Turkish security personnel were involved in the altercation. Four days after the incident, Turkey's official news agency, Andalou Agency, provided a version of the events where it reported the president's security detail and Turkish police were involved in the attack.
A woman also told BuzzFeed News that one of Erdogan's body guards held her neck and threaten to kill her during the clash.
At least 12 people, including one police officer, were ultimately injured in the brawl. Two people were arrested at the scene.
Police did not say Wednesday what role Yildirim and Narin played in the fight or what connection, if any, they had to Erdogan and the embassy.
However, the New York Times previously identified both men in video footage of the fight. Narin can be seen wearing a suit and kicking a woman on the ground. He later told the Times he was defending himself.
The video also shows Yildirim kicking a woman on the ground. According to the Times, he manages companies in New Jersey, while Narin owns property in Virginia.
The fight drew widespread condemnation in the US. DC Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement that the fight stands "in contrast to the First Amendment rights and principles we work tirelessly to protect each and every day." And the State Department said that "violence is never an appropriate response to free speech."
Rep. Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee applauded the arrests, saying "The violent attacks by Turkish security forces on peaceful protestors in Washington were completely and totally unjustified. Now, the State Department should double down on efforts to help bring these individuals to justice. And furthermore, the Department should reject the proposed sale of $1.2 million of semi-automatic handguns and ammunition to these security forces. These types of unprovoked attacks on innocent Americans and their Constitutional rights can never happen again."
Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jim Dalrymple II at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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