Saeed Karimian GEM TV CEO assassination Istanbul: Was a high profile media executive shot dead by Iran’s government after being found guilty of propaganda?
Turkish authorities have revealed that Saeed Karimian the Iranian founder of Farsi satellite television network, GEM TV has been shot dead in Istanbul along with a Kuwaiti business partner.
Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper reported Karimian was shot dead after an SUV blocked off his car with two masked occupants exiting the vehicle before opening fire. The shooting occurred circa 8pm in Istanbul where Karimian had taken up residence.
The CEO’s shooting death comes after a Tehran court in March had sentenced the executive to prison (in absentia) for making ‘propaganda’ against the country. At the time, the GEM TV CEO had been sentenced to six years in prison.
Of note, Iran’s governing Revolutionary Guard had described the GEM executive as an opposition network.
A report via the guardian told of the vehicle used in the shooting later found burnt out. Turkish police released a statement saying they were investigating the ‘apparent assassination’.
Phone numbers for GEM rang unanswered Sunday noted the Daily Star Lebanon.
In a statement on its Facebook page, GEM TV confirmed Karimian had died but without making clear the circumstances of the death.
Local police identified the dead Kuwaiti (of Iranian descent) by the initials M.M. Kuwait’s state-run KUNA news agency, quoting the consul general in Istanbul, confirmed a Kuwaiti citizen was gunned down, without elaborating.
Gem TV, which dubs foreign and Western shows into Persian and broadcasts them into Iran, has been criticized by Iran for showing programs which go against Islamic values and has been accused the channel of spreading Western culture.
Of note, family members told the bbc that the British based Karimian had been threatened by Iran the past three months, and as a result was planning to leave Istanbul and move back to London.
Nevertheless, Turkish authorities responding to the GEM TV executive’s shooting death suggested the killing may be related to business and gangs.
Turkey’s Dogan news agency quoted the mayor of Istanbul’s upscale Sariyer district (where the shooting took place) as saying initial police findings suggested the shooting may have been prompted by a financial disagreement involving the GEM TV CEO.
Turkey’s Tasnim media reported Karimian and his father having ties to the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, an Iranian exile group, known by the initials MEK.
In a statement, the MEK denied the Iranian claims that Karimian and his father had links to the group. The MEK blamed Iran’s governing Revolutionary Guard for the killings, noting they were carried out on the eve of a day honoring the Guard.
Responding to the shooting, Fakher Awur a close friend of Karimian told via alarabiya:
‘If Iran continues to assassinate its opponents abroad, as has happened to Saeed Karimian, it will face global responses,’
Adding, ‘The Iranian regime will not be able to assassinate its opponents to silence the voice of the Iranian opposition’.
Gem Group was initially established in London in 2001 and later expanding to Dubai. According to the group’s website, it has 17 Persian-language channels, plus one each in Kurdish, Azeri and Arabic.
#Iran regime’s IRGC assassinated Saeed Karimian& colleague in Turkey upon Khamenei’s order https://t.co/Xj9ojni1Wl #BlacklistIRGC @Stuart_JW pic.twitter.com/zkSrTyy1Af
— Shahin Gobadi (@gobadi) April 30, 2017
Assassination of Saeed Karimian & His Colleague Was Carried out by IRGC Upon Order of #Iran Regime’s Supreme Leader https://t.co/8i0nuiG8l5 pic.twitter.com/ZrzkIryE3a
— Iranian Youth (@Iran_Youth) April 30, 2017