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Renowned Washington think-tank The Brookings Institution came close to cancelling a speech by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s an hour before the event, after the flagrant attack by the Turkish leader’s guards on journalists and protestors gathered outside the foundation’s headquarters in Washington D.C., Foreign Policy revealed.
According to the report, the Turkish leader’s planned speech at the institute was a hairbreadth away from cancellation when his enterouge was on route to the event. Erdogan’s personnel outside the foundation’s office tried to supress a demonstration against Turkish policy and the Turkish journalists trying to sneak to the event.
Erdogan’s bodyguards insulted, threatened and pushed the journalists. A scuffle was stopped only when local police intervened.
Later, it was revealed that Brookings President Strobe Talbott was going to call off the presentation by the Turkish leader following the assault by the Turkish security agents, despite the embarrassment that would likely have resulted.
“Following a stiff exchange between Mr. Talbott and Turkish officials, the security agents complied with our demand to stop their actions,” Gail Chalef, a Brookings Institution spokeswoman told Foreign Policy.
After Erdogan departed from the event, a van dropped a group of the unknown activists to the building. They were handing out t-shirts with writing in support of Erdogan, signs and Turkish flags. They refused to name the organization that was behind them.
Many activists lashed out at the actions by Erdogan’s security detail, comparing those to the ongoing assault on the journalists in Turkey itself.
“We have increasingly seen disrespect for basic human rights and press freedom in Turkey,” Thomas Burr, the president of the National Press Club stated. “Erdogan doesn’t get to export such abuse.”
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