Twelve people are either facing charges or will be charged for assaulting peaceful protesters at Turkey’s Embassy in DC last month. Two arrests were made at the scene; however those individuals were released because the State Department said they have diplomatic immunity.
Two men were arrested in the United States. Sinan Narin, of Virginia was arrested in Virginia and charged with aggravated assault. Eyup Yildirim was arrested in New Jersey on charges of assault with significant bodily injury and aggravated assault. According to the New York Times, two Canadians were also arrested. The remaining eight men live in Turkey. According to AP, seven of the men face felony charges and five face misdemeanor charges.
Regarding the eight who remain at large, the first legal question is whether they have immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Following the assault, some experts said they have immunity and that may be the price of keeping our diplomats free abroad.
Ashley Deeks pointed out:
“Security officials who work for the Turkish Embassy likely hold “administrative and technical status,” which means that they are not subject to arrest or detention and enjoy immunity from criminal jurisdiction. They would be immune from civil suits as well, but only in connection with the performance of their official duties.”
For immunity to apply, Turkey would have had to seek and obtain our agreement that the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations applies to Erdogan’s guards, as noted in Phillip Bump’s analysis.
That is how the two guards who were arrested at the scene were subsequently released.
If by some chance Turkey accepts that they do not have immunity, the next question is whether the country will comply with the terms of our extradition treaty.
The terms cover offenses punishable in both countries by more than a year in prison. It doesn’t cover offenses that are “political in character, with the exception of when those offenses are committed or attempted against a head of state. It also doesn’t cover military offenses.
If Turkey refuses to extradite them, the men could be arrested if they return to the United States in some capacity where they wouldn’t have diplomatic immunity.
It’s encouraging to see that charges have been filed to bring justice for the people who were assaulted while exercising their constitutional right to protest peacefully. However, it remains to be seen if the eight men who reside in Turkey will ever face justice in an American court.