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How Turkey ended up docked in the United States




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A still image capture from video provided by Voice of America shows members of Recep Tayyip Erdogans ‘security service reacting violently to a peaceful protest during the Turkish presidents’ trip to Washington in May 2017. [Voice of America/AP]

In a brief submitted by the US Department of Justice as part of an ongoing litigation, the Biden administration says the Republic of Turkey is not immune from prosecution for attacks by President Recep Tayyip Erdogans, the security service against peaceful protesters in Washington, DC in 2017. Andreas Akaras, a politically savvy Greek-American lawyer, is playing a leading role in this trial.

Speaking to Kathimerini, Akaras, who represents several of the victims attacked by the Erdogans guards, said both the government note and the resolutions passed by Congress on the incident reflected sentiment in the United States about the true nature of Turkey, a country that rapes man. rights and has no limits.

This is a case that Law & Crime editor Adam Klasfeld says captured national imagination and attention as a few stories I’ve covered, even with people who otherwise don’t follow them closely. US-Turkish relations. So many people have told me how they couldn’t believe this could happen on the streets of Washington, DC, only to silence the White House.

The brief was filed in response to an order from the District of Columbia Court of Appeals to the Department of Justice which, in consultation with the Department of State and the Secret Service, sets out the position of the United States government following an appeal from Turkey claiming that the actions of the presidential bodyguards were in defense of the Turkish president, which the US government has rejected.

The previous Friday, in a bipartisan letter, the leadership of the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committees informed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken of their position that Turkey had not been granted asylum under US law in this matter.

Responding to Kathimerini on the importance of the Congressional letter, attorney Akaras said: I think it helped. In the United States, we have checks and balances, and Congress, the legislature, has said that we interpret the law in this specific way, and according to that, Turkey does not have immunity. He showed that the legislature agreed with the district court and that it would not oppose the government on this issue. So he was instrumental in the decision, because all branches of government agreed that the FSIA (Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act) does not grant Turkey immunity from prosecution.

Responding to Kathimerini on how this consensus decision was made, Akaras explained: Because there is a difference between fantasy and reality, between an impression and logic. Turkey has tried to create a reality parallel to the reality itself. Beyond the limited public videos, there are other videos seen by lawyers and courts that show beyond any doubt that the attacks by Turkish bodyguards were not made in defense of their president. There was no danger there; in fact, there has been no expression on the part of the American police or the Secret Service, charged with protecting all foreign heads of state who visit the United States, that would demonstrate that there was a threat. The Turkish guards simply attacked the protesters and started tearing up their signs. The guards were not protecting their president, they were on the offensive, determined to violate the right of protesters to express themselves freely.

Akaras says it would be extremely surprising if the Court of Appeal did not uphold the ruling that Turkey is not immune from prosecution. As for what happens next, he expects Turkey to appeal to the Supreme Court, but believes the matter is unlikely to be considered, as the Supreme Court only accepts a few cases a year for exam. Thus, he sees the case approaching a litigation on the merits, where the Turkish guards can be tried for their actions. Akaras adds that we are confident that we can prove that what happened was intentional and that Turkey will find it difficult to support fictitious defenses. Indeed, they are unlikely to get the guards to testify, especially the four who face criminal charges in the United States, as they will be arrested if they show up.

We asked him about the #hesaysattack hashtag which is all the rage on social media. The hashtag addresses the question of President Erdogans’ role in the attack. We have evidence that the attack was ordered by Erdogan himself. I don’t see Erdogan agreeing to sit for his testimony, but yes, that is part of the case. As you can also see in the reports, we hear the Turkish words Dalin diyor, words shared between the presidential bodyguards of Erdogans. They mean He says attack, but who’s the one saying it? May I remind you that all this took place outside the residence of the Turkish ambassadors, with the doors of his armored car wide open. If there is a security threat, the doors do not open. Here the doors are open, he is in communication with his bodyguards, and within seconds there is an organized attack and the words Dalin diyor are heard. So yes, that is part of the case.

Does Akaras believe that the decisions of Congress and the government on the issue are damaging relations between Turkey and the United States? I think it’s more than that, it means we know who you are. Indeed, before the DoJ’s brief and the correspondence of the Congressional external relations committees, another letter from Congress circulated, signed by 170 members of Congress, which identified the Turkish human rights violations, also claiming to have brought that mentality on the streets of Washington, DC. This created a widely held view that Turkey is a country that violates human rights and has no limits, and its leader and agents felt comfortable enough to violate human rights. man on the streets of Washington, DC! Turkey’s actions at Sheridan Circle are undoubtedly offensive to American elected officials, let alone American society as a whole. Simply put, abusing human rights in your country is one thing, but having the arrogance and cowardice to do so in our country shows that Turkish officials fail even to be a good guest. Akaras adds that Congress defends the Constitution and in particular the First Amendment, the one that protects freedom of speech and the right to disagree with a government’s policies. It was the right exercised by the protesters that day and Congress sees Turkey’s actions as a threat to the Constitution and democratic principles of the United States.

What would a potential judgment against Turkey legally mean? Quite often there is the issue of what compensation the court will determine for our clients, including damages for physical and emotional injuries. More importantly, there is the real possibility that there is a legal opinion issued by a federal court in the United States that the Turkish Presidential Guards, and possibly even the Turkish President himself, have deliberately attacked people. people on the streets to deprive them of their freedom. of speech. Akaras points out that Turkey has not shown this behavior once in the United States or once elsewhere; they broke the nose of an Ecuadorian parliamentarian, injured the arm of a United Nations security officer; they assaulted police in Belgium and there was another incident in South Africa. If this is what the Turkish police do abroad, imagine what they are doing in Turkey.

As for the United States, Akaras believes that, since this is an unprecedented problem, this case will be taught in law schools as the most contemporary example of the application of the legal framework of the United States. FSIA. Because it is important for many reasons, including free speech, the jurisdiction of the courts to try a country that has violated US laws is something of interest. And historical, we add. And historical, he agrees.

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