Turkish authorities detained 17 people on Wednesday for putting a hood over the head of a visiting U.S. Navy civilian employee in a protest against United States policy in the Middle East, the Istanbul governor’s office said.
The group that carried out the act, the Turkey Youth Union (TGB), shared images on Twitter of the incident, in which a group of people chanted anti-U.S. slogans at their target.
“You are our enemy and you are not wanted here. We will not allow U.S. soldiers to roam free in our lands. Yankee go home,” the group said, criticising U.S. support for Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters who are considered terrorists by Ankara.
The 17 people detained had targeted a civilian employee of a U.S. Navy ship that “came to our city as part of a port visit”, the governor’s office said in a statement. It did not elaborate on any possible charges against the group.
On Monday, the captain of the USS Mount Whitney vessel said his crew was looking forward to visiting Turkey and “enhancing our relationship with our Turkish allies” as it sailed through the Bosphorus to join NATO activities in the Black Sea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin complained this week about the ship’s presence in the region, and Russia’s Black Sea naval forces practised destroying enemy targets.
The TGB carried out a similar act in 2014 by putting a hood over the head of U.S. soldiers returning from an exercise in the Black Sea region.
Relations between the United States and Turkey – NATO allies – have been strained in recent years by differences over policy in Syria, Ankara’s purchase of Russian air defence systems as well as its human rights record.