Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 55° Partly Cloudy
News >  Nation

Senate bill would block U.S. weapons sales to Turkish security

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 8, 2017

In this file frame grab from video provided by Voice of America, members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail are shown violently reacting to peaceful protesters during Erdogan’s trip last month to Washington. (Voice of America / AP)
In this file frame grab from video provided by Voice of America, members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail are shown violently reacting to peaceful protesters during Erdogan’s trip last month to Washington. (Voice of America / AP)
By Matthew Daly Associated Press

WASHINGTON – A measure approved Thursday by a Senate committee would block the U.S. government from supporting the sale of weapons to security forces protecting Turkey’s president.

The amendment approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee is part of a continuing U.S. response to violence against peaceful protesters carried out by bodyguards traveling with the Turkish president during a visit to Washington this spring.

Bodyguards for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan punched and kicked protesters who had gathered outside the ambassador’s residence in May awaiting Erdogan’s return from a White House meeting with President Donald Trump.

A total of 19 people, including 15 identified as Turkish security officials, have been indicted on felony charges in the incident, which has complicated already tense relations between the U.S and Turkey.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration notified Congress of its intent to allow a New Hampshire gunmaker to sell $1.2 million in semi-automatic handguns and ammunition to an intermediary in Turkey for use by Erdogan’s security forces. The sale was quietly put on hold after the incident outside the ambassador’s residence. An official familiar with the administration’s plans said the sale has been shelved indefinitely.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who co-sponsored the amendment with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said the vote by the appropriations panel sent “a strong, bipartisan message: We are not going to let President Erdogan’s personal bodyguards attack peaceful American protesters on American soil – and we’re certainly not going to sell them weapons while they do it.”

A spokesperson for the gunmaker, Sig Sauer, could not be reached Thursday.

Van Hollen said he and Leahy will work with the State Department to ensure that the Turkish National Police also are held accountable for their actions. The police have assisted Erdogan in suppressing dissent, Van Hollen said.

The amendment, part of a larger spending bill for the State Department, now goes to the full Senate. If approved by Congress and signed into law, the measure would remain in place until the secretary of state certifies that Turkey has made significant progress on human rights and democracy.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.