Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan showed no retreat from a diplomatic row with the United States on Saturday, castigating Washington for what he said an “undemocratic” indictment against his security detail.
His comments may further dash hopes of a quick resolution to an on-going diplomatic crisis between the NATO allies. Both Ankara and Washington have cut back issuing visas to each other’s citizens as ties have worsened.
“They say the United States is the cradle of democracy. This can’t be true. This can’t be democracy,” Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul.
If arrest warrants are issued against my bodyguards in absentia … in the United States, where I went upon invitation, excuse me but I will not say this is a civilised country.
A US grand jury in August indicted 15 Turkish security officials over a brawl between protesters and Erdogan’s security personnel during the Turkish president’s visit to Washington in May. Erdogan has said the indictment was not binding for Ankara.
The row deepened after Turkish authorities arrested two US consular staff, both Turkish nationals. In May, a translator at the consulate in the southern province of Adana was arrested and two weeks ago a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) worker was detained in Istanbul.
Both are accused of links to last year’ failed coup. The US embassy has said the accusations are baseless.
Turkish police want to question a third worker based in Istanbul. His wife and daughter were detained this month last week over alleged links to the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for orchestrating the abortive putsch. They were later released.