Man Charged in Turkish-Protest Assault Denied Bail

Reporters photograph wanted posters of people facing criminal charges before a June 15 news conference about the May 16, 2017, altercation outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington during the visit of the Turkish president. Police say they’ve issued arrest warrants for a dozen Turkish security agents and two others accused of taking part in a violent altercation May 16 as Turkey’s president visited Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (CN) – A judge denied bail Friday to a man accused of assaulting two female protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence during a violent melee last month.

In announcing her decision against Sinan Narin, D.C. Superior Judge Marisa DeMao credited video footage that shows the 45-year-old kicking several protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence.

“He chose to attack two separate women who were exercising their First Amendment rights in a public space,” DeMao said.

“I just saw the video, which was taken in broad daylight,” the judge added. “It appears to be the exact same person,” she added.

DeMao noted that the brazenness of the attack, which occurred in front of numerous law-enforcement officials, indicated that Narin could be a danger to the community. That weighed heavily against releasing him, she ruled.

From left, Metropolitan Police Department Deputy Chief Jeffery Carroll, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham, and Brian Ebert, U.S. Secret Service special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office, participate in a June 15, 2017, news conference about the May 16 altercation outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington during the visit of the Turkish president. Police say they’ve issued arrest warrants for a dozen Turkish security agents and two others accused of taking part in a violent altercation May 16 as Turkey’s president visited Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The U.S. government charged Narin a day earlier with simple and aggravated assault for the May 16 attack coinciding with the White House visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Metropolitan Police Department detective Victor DePeralta said in court Friday that he had worked in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State to identify Narin as the man in the video, using the agency’s facial-recognition software.

Investigators compared still photos from the video footage against Narin’s visa and passport photos, he said.

Defense attorney Susan Borecki failed to sway the judge that the facial-recognition technology is unreliable and that her client had never admitted guilt.

A May 26 article by The New York Times quotes Narin in an interview as acknowledging that he kicked protestor Lusik Usiyan.

“I wasn’t paying attention,” Narin had told the Times. “I thought it was a man. I would never kick a woman.”

Narin also claimed to have been trying to defend himself and called the protestors terrorists.  

For DeMao, the interview constituted an admission of guilt.

Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham, accompanied by District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, speaks during a June 15, 2017, news conference about the May 16 altercation outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington during the visit of the Turkish president. Police say they’ve issued arrest warrants for a dozen Turkish security agents and two others accused of taking part in a violent altercation May 16 as Turkey’s president visited Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The chaos broke out not long after a group of roughly 20 protesters had gathered in a park adjacent to the Turkish ambassador’s residence on Sheridan Circle prior to President Erdogan’s arrival there on May 16.

According to the affidavit in support of Narin’s arrest, the group included anti-Erdogan protestors, supporters of pro-Kurdish political parties, and Iranian, Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish Kurds.

Some had called for the release of Selahattin Demirtas, the imprisoned head of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, and another carried a Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party flag, the affidavit says.

Erdogan’s security detail and some of his supporters had already gathered outside the residence before the protesters got there. 

“When the protesters arrived in the area, the pro-Erdogan supporters started yelling threats and anti-Kurdish statements at them, including, ‘F**k you, Kurds!'” according to affidavit written by DePeralta.

Pictures of people facing criminal charges are seen after a news conference about an altercation outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington during the June 15, 2017, White House visit of the Turkish president. Police say they’ve issued arrest warrants for a dozen Turkish security agents and two others accused of taking part in a violent altercation as Turkey’s president visited Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Video footage of the melee, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Sonali Patel showed in court Friday, shows police officers trying to separate Erdogan’s security detail and other pro-Turkish government supporters dressed in dark suits from the mostly Kurdish protesters after an initial scuffle between the two groups.

According to the Times report, Narin was not a part of Erdogan’s security detail.

Although the protesters were chanting anti-Erdogan slogans at that point, DePeralta’s affidavit said, “they were not physically aggressive in any way, nor were they even physically proximate to the pro-Erdogan contingent.”

But about one minute into the video, the men can be seen bursting through the police cordon, after which they started punching and kicking the protesters.

Pictures of people facing criminal charges are seen after a news conference about an altercation outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington during the June 15, 2017, White House visit of the Turkish president. Police say they’ve issued arrest warrants for a dozen Turkish security agents and two others accused of taking part in a violent altercation as Turkey’s president visited Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Narin repeatedly kicked one of them, Lusik Usiyan, who lost consciousness during the attack. DePeralta said she sustained bruises to her brain.

Narin also kicked protester Elif Genc, who suffered knee abrasions.

Nine people were injured during the attack. 

“The victims appeared to have been sought out based on their opposition to President Erdogan and support of Kurds in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey,” the affidavit says.

U.S. marshals also arrested Eyup Yildirim, 50, of Manchester, New Jersey, and filed criminal charges against 14 other individuals in connection to the attack, including nine Turkish security officers, three Turkish police officers and two Canadian citizens.

Pictures of people facing criminal charges are seen after a news conference about an altercation outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington during the June 15, 2017, White House visit of the Turkish president. Police say they’ve issued arrest warrants for a dozen Turkish security agents and two others accused of taking part in a violent altercation as Turkey’s president visited Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Yildirim made his first appearance in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on Wednesday and will be held until he is extradited to Washington.

Erdogan voiced his displeasure with the arrest warrants at a dinner on Thursday, according to a press account by Turkish state-run news service Anadolu Agency.

“What kind of a rule, what kind of a law is this?” Mr. Erdogan reportedly said. “If those bodyguards would not protect me, why I am bringing them with me to the U.S.?”

Narin has lived in McLean, Virginia, for 13 years with his wife and has no criminal record. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison, a $25,000 fine or both.

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