Issues

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Asks State Department to Reject $1.2 Million Arms Sale to Erdogan Bodyguards Over DC Assault

'All defense transfers to any Turkish agencies involved in the May 16 incident should be suspended pending a satisfactory resolution of this matter'

U.S. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce
U.S. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce / Getty Images

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to the State Department on Thursday requesting a potential arms deal between the United States and Turkey's presidential security agency be rejected.

Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.) asked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to avoid any potential deal with the agency tasked with providing security for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan because members of that agency were allegedly involved in a May 16 assault on protesters in Washington, D.C.

"I am writing to urge the Department of State to reject the proposed sale of $1.2 million of semi-automatic handguns and ammunition to the security detail protecting the Turkish President," Rep. Royce wrote in the letter which was first reported by CBS News. "The Department recently informed the Committee that it is considering an application to sell arms to the Turkish Department of Security of the Presidency. This is the same force that was filmed attacking peaceful protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador's residence in Washington D.C. on May 16."

The May 16 attack is currently being investigated by the State Department, Secret Service, and D.C. Police. The agencies have not released any updates on the investigation since May 23 but have said the investigation is ongoing. During a press conference in the immediate aftermath of the attack, District of Columbia police chief Peter Newsham said diplomatic immunity may be an issue in holding Turkish personnel responsible for their actions.

Congress has been active in condemning the attack. Forty congressmen wrote a letter to the State Department and Department of Justice last week advocating for Turkish officials involved in the attack to be arrested or expelled from the country. The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution condemning the attack and calling for a number of different consequences for those involved.

Now Rep. Royce is calling for any and all arms sales to Turkish agencies involved in the attack to be canceled.

"Many Committee Members remain deeply concerned about this incident, as evidenced by our passage last week of House Resolution 354, which notes the unprofessional and brutal conduct of the Turkish security forces, and calls for responsible individuals to be charged and prosecuted under U.S. law," he wrote in the letter. "Accordingly, all defense transfers to any Turkish agencies involved in the May 16 incident should be suspended pending a satisfactory resolution of this matter."