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Anti-American Activists After Sailors Taunted as ‘Killers’ in Turkey

Video Purportedly Shows Turkish Mob Harassing U.S. Sailors 1:14

ISTANBUL, Turkey — Twelve members of an anti-American activist group involved in accosting three U.S. sailors on shore leave in Turkey were released from custody without charge early Thursday, a spokesman for the group said. The Turkish Youth Union — or TGB — claimed responsibility for the incident and said it was dedicated to "all the Turkish martyrs and to all of the millions of innocent people in the Middle East who were killed by imperialism." Footage of the confrontation was uploaded to YouTube and showed TGB activists putting plastic bags over the sailors' heads, pelting them with balloons filled with paint, and calling them "killers."

Police said 12 people were detained, but TGB spokesman Cem Dikmen told NBC News that these were all released without charge in the early hours of the following morning. The sailors were assigned to the USS Ross, a missile destroyer on a port visit to Turkey's largest city, and they were not dressed in uniform. The U.S. Navy said in a statement the men were not harmed and that it was working with Turkish authorities and the U.S. Embassy in Ankara to investigate the incident.

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- Aziz Akyavas and Alexander Smith