Two U.S. senators have said that the U.S. government has halted weapons sales to the bodyguards of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after his aides attacked protesters in Washington back in May.
On Monday, Senators Patrick Leahy and Chris Van Hollen said the move came after they proposed their own legislation to freeze any sales to the Turkish Presidential Protection Directorate, AFP reported.
“This sale to President Erdogan's personal security guards should never have been approved, given their history of excessive force,” Leahy and Van Hollen said in a statement.
The U.S. government, under the move, would block a deal by New Hampshire-based Sig Sauer to sell $1.2 million worth of small arms to the bodyguard unit behind the May 16 assault on anti-Erdogan protesters during a presidential visit to Washington.
“We should also stop selling weapons to units of the Turkish National Police that have been arbitrarily arresting and abusing Turkish citizens who peacefully criticize the government,” the senators added.
Since the attack in front of the Turkish ambassador’s residence that injured several demonstrators, nineteen members of Erdogan’s security detail have been indicted.
Fifteen Turkish nationals and two Turkish-Canadians involved in the case have left the United States, and two Turkish-Americans were arrested and pleaded innocent to assault charges on September 7.
Erdogan has blasted the U.S. indictment of his bodyguards and labeled the demonstrators “terrorist”.