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Online Campaign to Identify “Erdoğan’s Bodyguards” Following Assault

May 18, 2017

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Translations: Русский

On Tuesday, May 16, nearly a dozen people were injured after a clash between pro-Kurdish/anti-Erdoğan protesters and a group that included both Erdoğan supporters and Turkish security officials, including bodyguards of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The clash happened outside of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington D.C., and marks the second instance since 2016 where Turkish security officials were involved in violence in Washington.

Last year, Turkish security officials assaulted Turkish journalists outside of the Brookings Institution, leading to injuries inflicted on the Turkish journalists critical of President Erdoğan.

During Tuesday’s protest, the Turkish security officials did not just hold back or try to protect themselves from the protesters, but sought to hurt them, including multiple officials who deliberately kicked defenseless protesters who were already injured on the ground.

Before the skirmish

Before Turkish security officials were involved in the confrontation, a number of pro-Erdoğan and pro-Kurdish/anti-Erdoğan protesters clashed with one another, leading to injuries and each side rushing at each other. However, after these scuffles, both sides were on opposite sides of the street with traffic moving in between. Immediately before a skirmish broke out, a Turkish security official with a mustache and striped tie (1) was screaming at protesters and had to be held back by police officers (2, 3, 4).

Soon, someone rushed across the street, attacking the dozen or so protesters. It is difficult to identify this official because of a lack of footage in between the police holding back the men, and when the man in a suit rushed the protesters across the street.

Battle of Embassy Row

Soon after the fight started, a Turkish security official was filmed kicking a protester who was already injured, on the ground.

Turkish security agent kicks protester who was knocked to the ground (source)

Another Turkish security official also kicked this man while he was on the ground, leaving him bloodied.

Turkish security agent kicks protester who was knocked to the ground (source)

This man with the megaphone is later seen walking in a small park, heavily injured and bloodied after the beat-down.

Bloodied protester after being attacked by Turkish security forces (source)

Another man who was previously seen with security officials kicks a woman writhing on the ground as he walks past her.

Turkish security agent kicks a woman on the ground (source)

Twitter user @BmoreBloc filmed a video where this woman was being helped by a police officer, who said that she needed to be taken to a hospital for her injuries (see 1:07 in video below).

This same man is seen a couple minutes later among Turkish security officials, as he was immediately before the skirmish broke out.

Man who kicked a woman lying on the ground (source)

Turkish security officials, or just protesters?

This second high-profile incident of violence between Turkish security agents and American protesters has led to online efforts to identify the bodyguards and, if possible, introduce legal or diplomatic actions against these men. The hashtag #ArrestErdogansBodyguards has picked up steam since the incident, with online activists sharing screenshots of these bodyguards who injured protesters.

While it is difficult to prove that some of the men in these tweets are indeed bodyguards or other types of Turkish security officials, some of them clearly were, as shown both in a close analysis of the video and in reports from U.S. officials.

Many of the men who either started the skirmish or injured the protesters were wearing lapel pins, lanyards, and earpieces–all indicating that they were security officials.

An earpiece can be seen flying on the left side of one of the security officials, after he kicks the man with a megaphone in the face. This detail confirms yet again that among the most violent assailants were Turkish security officials, and not just well-dressed protesters.

If we look through other videos of President Erdoğan and his security detail, we can find some of his bodyguards were present for the brawl. For example, a man in a dark red tie and sunglasses almost kicks the man with the megaphone, but pulls back at the last moment. He has been filmed with President Erdoğan as part of his security detail for his recent American visit.

Armed Men Involved

Among the pro-Erdoğan protesters and the Turkish security officials in suits were a handful of men in identical khaki summer suits. These men were aggressively fighting protesters alongside the men in suits.

Many of these men were carrying guns, though they were never openly displayed or used during the incident.

Some of these men in the summer suit were wearing an earpiece, much like the Turkish security officials.

Conclusion and a call to for crowdsourcing

Clearly, Turkish security officials were among the violent participants of the brawl of May 16. U.S. officials have confirmed that these men were involved in the fight, but a close analysis of the available video footage shows us that they were not just present for the incident, but aggressors who attacked men and women lying defenseless on the ground. Many of these victims have been identified as American citizens.

Following the incident, many of the security officials filmed at the protest shared a photograph together, presumably taken while leaving the United States.

One of the men allegedly in the photograph was described in an interview to BuzzFeed news by a victim at the protest:

Borazan told BuzzFeed News that the man called her a “bitch” in Turkish and told her, “I’m going to kill you, you’re dead, you are gone.”

A video of the incident can be seen below:

If you find any additional footage of the events of May 16, or footage of any of the participants in the skirmish in previously recorded footage of President Erdoğan’s or the Turkish Ambassador’s security details, please leave the information in the comments to this article, or tweet @bellingcat on Twitter. Many of the individuals who were part of the violence on May 16 are suspected of participating in previous incidents, and of being part of President Erdoğan’s delegations in the United States and abroad.

For example, Voice of America filmed this video below showing President Erdoğan in New York [emerging around 2:30], with many members of his security detail.

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  1. KU

    The video with Erdogan in it:

    One quick thing I noticed:
    The bald guy in the suit hitting and kicking people (you can see him in the middle of the screen around 0:48) looks to me to be the same guy coming back to Erdogan’s car at 1:22?
    At 0:57 you can see a motorcop telling him to leave and pushes him back to the street, a bit later you can see him walking back from the street, for example at 1:16.

  2. R. Petree

    See Chuck Ross’ (DailyCaller) report late last night on enhanced audiovisual analysis of the VOA video shot from behind Erdogan’s limo at entrance to Ambassador’s residence: One bodyguard ordered into action by the person in the car is referred to by his first name, Servet (“Servet abi” means “older brother Servet,” a respectful and affectionate term). That VOA video is highly relevant to your enquiry but it clearly shows bodyguards surrounding the President’s limo at the opening then moving into the fray, and finally returning to the limo.

  3. Phillip Madsen

    Watch the waistline of the man in the dark suit in the .gif just above the paragraph that begins “If we look through other videos…”. He is clearly armed.

  4. XY

    Turkish academic in exile Emrullah Uslu writes:

    Those who attacked the protesters on Tuesday were not only Erdogan’s bodyguards but also his supporters, including his “journalists.” In the video from the episode, I could easily identify one of the attackers as a “journalist” working for the Turkish State Own Anatolian News Agency’s Washington Office. He was bragging about how he managed to beat up some Kurds.

  5. Twitchey

    why doesn’t everyone demand trump prosecute the assholes? diplomatic immunity or not why were they allowed to hurt American Citizens? Everyone let them get by with this.

  6. ossidiana

    this makes me think, maybe it’s a bit staged and a bit real, not all issues are black and white

  7. g

    There is a video with, “Servet abi dalin dedi!” = Servet says, attack!

    And there is another video in which a man took an order from the bodyguard of erdogan by his car. It is to check if this man’s name is SERVET. It is an evidence that the order to attack the protesters comes directly from erdogan.

  8. eliz wilkinson

    We lived in Istanbul 3x under a democratic govt. We are disgusted and dismayed by their current dictator and his thugs. They should be thrown out of the US or jailed for their behavior. The Kurds have every right to protest and should have their own country.

  9. Watcher

    The punk in the blue polo and khakis seems to be neither bodyguard nor embassy security. Identify this sob pos and you might have criminal and or civil charges, or at least a lynch mob.

  10. Martin

    So the first man from Erdogans side who arrived at the protesters at the beginning of the second clash is the one attacking the protestor with the blue shirt, that’s at 0.01 in the first video on this side.
    The second man arriving at the protesters is (also) wearing wearing a suit, and sunglasses. He arrived jumping and kicking at them at 0:02, that’s on the right side of the screen. At 0:04 he’s punching, at 0:05 he’s kicking a bearded man with a red shirt in the stomach.
    At the beginning of the second video one can see him still chasing this man. Then he’s running towards several other men from Erdogan’s side, which are beating up a protestor wearing a white shirt. He’s punching this one at 0:08, and again at 0:13 and 0:14.
    Then he is turning around and then at 0:16 it seems he’s notifying his allies that cameras are around. Then the attack immediatly stops (in the first video one can see this at 0:34).
    At 0:19 he’s coming closer to a camera, but then decided to turn around and walk back.
    I think this person can also be seen on this video :
    …at full screen he’s head is at the word “Sesi” at -2.33.

    In the first video there is a man kicking two protesters on the ground at 0:23, i think he was already kicking a white-dressed one in the head at 0:16.


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