President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called the attackers who attacked Turkey’s diplomatic building with a crowbar “terrorists”.
U.S. police have detained a man accused of attacking Turkey’s diplomatic headquarters in New York with a crowbar and breaking its windows, law enforcement authorities said.
Friday’s arrest was condemned by U.S. and Turkish officials. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on U.S. authorities to find the perpetrator earlier this week, calling him a “terrorist”.
The NYPD identified the suspect in an email to Al Jazeera as 29-year-old Recep Akbiyik. He faces multiple charges including attempted burglary, illegal possession of a weapon, making terrorist threats, criminal mischief and threats, according to a police spokesman.
Turkish news media had previously reported that Akbiek was a Turkish citizen who left Turkey a year ago. His motives are unclear.
Video shared by Turkey’s state-run news outlet Anadolu Agency showed a man in black and a hat slamming a crowbar on the building’s glass facade early Monday morning.
The facility, a skyscraper near the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, is known as Turkey House. It houses the Turkish consulate in the city and its mission to the United Nations.
The attack came nearly a week before a runoff in Turkey’s presidential election between Erdogan and opposition candidate Kemal Kildaroglu.
The Turkish diaspora in New York is voting this week in elections to the Turkish House of Representatives. Türkiye’s vote will be held on Sunday. Erdogan came first in the first round of voting earlier this month but fell short of the majority needed to win outright.
In response to the attack, New York Mayor Eric Adams visited Turkey House on Monday and met with Turkish diplomats in the city.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also called the incident a “heinous attack” on Monday.
“We expect the United States to immediately identify the perpetrators and provide the necessary protection to ensure the safety of our diplomatic missions. My thoughts are with my colleagues abroad who have worked tirelessly for Turkiye, including during this election,” he said this week. In an earlier tweet, he used the Turkish government’s official spelling for Turkey.
The State Department said its Diplomatic Security Service was cooperating with local law enforcement on the investigation. “We condemn this act of vandalism,” spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.
The US ambassador to Türkiye, Jeff Flake, also condemned the attack.
We condemn Monday’s vandalism of Turkey House in New York City. We are working with local law enforcement to investigate and to safeguard the safety of these facilities and the diplomats working there.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) May 22, 2023
The United States and Turkey are NATO allies, but there have been frictions between the two countries in recent years, including Washington’s support for the Kurdish group in Syria.
U.S. officials have often stressed the importance of the alliance with Turkey, which helped broker a deal to continue exporting Ukrainian grain during Russia’s war on Ukraine.