US: Turkey's appeal rejected in case involving attack on protest by Erdogan's security detail
The US Supreme Court turned away on Monday Turkey's bid to dismiss two lawsuits filed by demonstrators who accused the security detail of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of injuring them in a protest in Washington DC in 2017 during a visit by Erdogan.
Turkey earlier appealed the lower court rulings which allowed the litigation to proceed, arguing that it has immunity from such legal action in the US under a federal law called the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
The act limits the jurisdiction of American courts over lawsuits against foreign governments.
The case involves an attack on a protest on 6 May 6 2017, when Erdogan was in the US capital to meet then-President Donald Trump.
Two lawsuits were filed in 2018 - one case brought by 15 plaintiffs and the other by five - seeking to hold Turkey's government responsible and asking for monetary damages for injuries that included concussions, seizures and lost teeth. The plaintiffs sought tens of millions of dollars, according to court papers.
While the Turkish media reported the incident as a brawl between rival groups and Ankara has blamed the demonstrators, claiming that they were linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK), the police chief in Washington DC described the incident as a "brutal attack" on peaceful protesters.
President Joe Biden's administration had urged the Supreme Court not to hear Turkey's appeal to avoid the lawsuits, saying that when foreign security personnel deploy force in ways that are not related to protecting officials from bodily harm they are acting outside their legal protections.
Lower courts ruled against Turkey. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2021 ruled that while members of the Turkish security detail had a right to protect Erdogan, their actions in this incident did not meet that exception.
Turkey had argued that a failure by the Supreme Court to reverse that ruling "invites reciprocal erosion of immunity for US security agents protecting American presidents, diplomats and missions abroad."