The Turkish government side lost the appeal hearing of the lawsuit filed in May 2017 for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bodyguards attacking anti-Erdogan protesters in Washington, DC.
When Erdogan returned to the Turkish Embassy Residence after meeting with then-US President Donald Trump, his bodyguards attacked a dozen people on the public area called Sheridan Circle, right across the Residence, and the events took place in all American national news channels and newspapers. The kicks and blood coming from the faces of the protesters who fell to the ground and were US citizens remained on the agenda for weeks.
In January 2019, the Washington district court accepted the case against two separate compensation lawsuits filed by protesters claiming to have been harmed by the attacks against the Republic of Turkey, while Turkish government lawyers filed an appeal.
On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals announced its decision, giving the opinion that both compensation cases should continue, and the Turkish government dismissed the lawyers’ objections. The full 29-page resolution is here:
The case, which was appealed by Turkish government lawyers David S. Saltzman, Cathy A. Hinger, and Victoria A. Bruno, put forward three main arguments: ‘immunity of a foreign leader’, ‘political doctrine’ and ‘international respect’. The Court of Appeal declared that it did not accept all three arguments.
Although the appeal was filed in January, U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of State officials, responding to the Court of Appeals request for comment in March, found the protesters justified, allowing the Turkish bodyguards to use force against the protesters without overt threat, even though it was their duty to protect their leaders, and disproportionate force as in this example. reported to the Court of Appeal that he found their use unwarranted.
The Biden administration expressed the following view:
“If foreign security personnel attack civilians on U.S. soil and do not necessarily act against physical harm when using force, then they are acting outside the concept of the protection function and are legally deprived of protection.”
Before the opinion of the US Department of Justice, members of both parties sent a letter to the Congress, asking the US administration not to protect the Turkish government.
Likewise, the Court of Appeal found the Turkish government unfair, noting that the bodyguards protecting the guest country leader did not have the right to “dangerous weapons” and “heavy attacks”, and that the arguments of the plaintiffs in this regard were worth considering. After that, compensation cases are expected to continue in the local district court.
In the analysis-news published on the subject in March, we stated that the decision of the Court of Appeal would most likely be against the Turkish government as follows:
An American legal expert who spoke to Ahval and closely monitors the cases pointed out that the US government’s opinion would most likely be accepted by the Court of Appeals and that the decision would also be against Turkey in the Court of Appeals. If Turkey wishes, it can also take the Appeals Decision to the US Constitutional Court, but it is not expected that much will come out of it.