Journalists Got Attacked On U.S. Soil For Doing Their Jobs

A Secret Service agent at an event for the Turkish president told a Turkish security guard to "calm down" and "act like an adult."
  • Turkish security guards attempted to remove a reporter from an event even after he was escorted back into the building by event staff.

  • Confrontations come amid a crackdown on the press in Turkey.

Security guards for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attacked journalists and protesters Thursday at an appearance by Erdoğan at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Adem Arslan, a Turkish journalist with Özgür Düşünce, told The Guardian he was invited to the Brookings event but was physically removed from the building by Erdoğan's security.

Gail Chalef, director of communications at Brookings, told USA Today that Brookings President Strobe Talbott personally escorted Arslan back into the building and put him in an overflow room, but Erdoğan's security guards tried to remove him again and were only prevented from doing so by an American security guard. 

Arslan has worked for an outlet linked to a U.S.-based Muslim cleric who is an enemy of Erdoğan, according to The Associated Press.

Another Turkish journalist, Emre Uslu, told The Guardian that Erdoğan's security guards kicked him in the knee so hard he bled. He also told the paper that officers from the Metropolitan Police Department and the Secret Service did not help him.

Journalist Emre Uslu shows his wounds from a confrontation with Turkish security guards at an event in Washington, D.C.
Journalist Emre Uslu shows his wounds from a confrontation with Turkish security guards at an event in Washington, D.C.

AFP reported that a security guard aimed a kick at the chest of an American reporter who was trying to film what was happening, and the AP said another reporter outside the venue was called a "PKK whore" -- a reference to a Kurdish separatist militant group that Erdogan has said is equivalent to the so-called Islamic State.

Video also captured Turkish security guards tussling with protesters, including one woman who fell to the ground. A separate video showed a U.S. Secret Service agent telling Turkish security to back off.

"Calm down, this is America, they're contained, act like an adult," the agent said.

Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama, told the Wall Street Journal Thursday he had seen reports of the clashes but didn't know all the details.

"Obviously the United States strongly supports freedom of the press and an independent media,” he told the paper.

The clashes with journalists on U.S. soil come as Turkey has further cracked down on journalists working in Turkey. Vice President Joe Biden also spoke out on crackdowns on the press during a visit to the country in January.

Thomas Burr, president of the National Press Club, condemned the attacks and said they were unacceptable in the United States.

“They have no right to lay their hands on reporters or protesters or anyone else for that matter, when the people they were apparently roughing up seemed to be merely doing their jobs or exercising the rights they have in this country," he said in a statement.



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