SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and John McCain (R-Arizona) penned a joint a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday urging him “to hold accountable those members of your staff who violently attacked peaceful protesters in our nation’s capitol.”
The letter comes after reports, and video, that appear to show members of the Turkish president’s security detail fighting protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington. D.C. on Tuesday.
WATCH: Turkish President Erdogan Observes As Bodyguards Beat Protesters Outside Turkey D.C. Embassy
“We should throw their ambassador the hell out of the United States of America,” said McCain on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show, in response to video that appears to show the violence.
McCain, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, write in the letter to Erdogan that members of the Turkish security detail “allegedly broke through police lines and violently attacked a small group of protesters…wounding at least nine people.”
The Senators called the behavior “wholly unacceptable and, unfortunately, reflective of your government’s treatment of the press, ethnic minority groups and political opponents.”
The Associated Press says they spoke with a congressional aide, who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity to discuss the situation. The aide said two members of Erdogan’s security detail were detained on the scene Tuesday by diplomatic security agents. However, those two guards claimed diplomatic immunity and were released after diplomatic security consulted with counsel.
The U.S. declined to say whether the security agents were granted diplomatic immunity or under what conditions they were released.
The letter to Erdogan comes one day after Rep. Ed Royce (D-California) wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions urging them to investigate the violence and determine whether criminal charges are warranted against any of the bodyguards.
Royce’s letter states that that bodyguards “viciously beat multiple individuals, throwing them to the ground and kicking them in the head.”
Royce writes, “Alarmingly, this behavior is indicative of the broad crackdowns on political activists, journalists and religious freedom in Turkey that have greatly harmed Turkish democracy in recent years. To send a clear message that these acts of violence will not be tolerated, I ask that you immediately look into this matter and bring all appropriate criminal charges before these individuals leave the United States.”
Videos of the incident show people fighting in Washington D.C.’s Sheridan Circle.
The Turkish Embassy maintains the bodyguards were acting in self defense and that the protesters were “aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the president. The Turkish-Americans responded in self-defense and one of them was seriously injured.”
The D.C. Police Department said in a statement, “We will continue to work with our partners at the Unites States State Department and the United States Secret Service to identify and hold all subjects accountable for their involvement in the altercation.”
By Hannah Albarazi – Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.