Nineteen indicted over brawl during Turkish leader's US visit

WASHINGTON, Aug 29 (Reuters) - A grand jury on Tuesday indicted 19 people, including 15 Turkish security officials, in connection with a brawl in Washington between protesters and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's security personnel in May, U.S. prosecutors said.

Eleven people were hurt in what Washington's police chief described as a "brutal attack" on peaceful protesters outside the Turkish ambassador's residence during Erdogan's visit to the United States.

The incident, which took place after Erdogan met with President Donald Trump at the White House, put further stress on already strained U.S.-Turkey relations.

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President Trump's meeting with Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shakes hands with U.S President Donald Trump as they make statements to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S President Donald Trump (L) talks with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he arrives at the entrance to the West Wing of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S President Donald Trump watches as Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan departs at the entrance to the West Wing of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and U.S President Donald Trump deliver statements to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shakes hands with U.S President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shakes hands with U.S President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S President Donald Trump watches as Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan departs at the entrance to the West Wing of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shakes hands with U.S President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
HAMBURG, GERMANY - JULY 07: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - ' TURKISH PRESIDENCY / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) meets with US President Donald Trump (R) during the G20 Leaders' Summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 07, 2017. Germany is hosting leaders from the worlds 20 largest economies at the Hamburg summit on July 7-8, set to focus on the global economy, trade, climate change, and the fight against international terrorism. (Photo by Turkish Presidency / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - MAY 16: U.S President Donald Trump (R) and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) hold a joint press conference after their meeting at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, United States on May 16, 2017. (Photo by Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - MAY 16: President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) is welcomed by U.S. President Donald Trump (L) ahead of their meeting at the White House in Washington, United States on May 16, 2017. (Photo by Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) leave after speaking to the press following meetings in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, May 16, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia said in a statement charges had already been brought against 16 of the defendants, and Tuesday's indictment added three to the list.

The three were named as Muhsin Kose, Yusuf Ayar and Harrettin Eren, adding they were among the 15 Turkish security officials indicted. The statement did not specify the others in the list.

"All 19 defendants were indicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, with a bias crime enhancement," it said. The charge is punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison and bias enhancement could lead to longer sentences, the statement said.

Some defendants face additional charges.

Only two of the 19 are in custody, and they are due to appear in court on Sept. 7, the statement said.

The Turkish Embassy has blamed the violence on demonstrators linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which Turkey and the United States consider a terrorist group.

(Editing by G Crosse)

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