Iranian media mogul gunned down in Turkey

Iranian media mogul gunned down in Turkey
Saeed Karimian critic of the Iranian government who owned a Persian-language TV network has been assassinated in Istanbul along with his Kuwaiti business partner.
3 min read
30 April, 2017
Karimian was shot dead in Turkey's Istanbul [Anadolu]

A British-Iranian media mogul and his Kuwaiti business partner have been gunned down in Turkey in killings late Saturday blamed on Tehran.

Saeed Karimian was the owner of Persian-language entertainment broadcasters GEM TV Group which broadcasts other shows in Kurdish, Azeri and Arabic languages all of which are spoken in Iran.

Karimian and his Kuwaiti business partner were shot dead late Saturday in the upscale Maslak district of Istanbul, the Turkish Hurriyet newspaper reported.

Initial reports on Saturday had said two Iranians had been killed, without giving the identities, while GEM TV confirmed Karimian's death on its Facebook page.

"With great sorrow and regret we announce the death of Said Karimian," it said.

It described him as a "great man who with a pure and kind spirit spent his life with honesty and sincerity for dignity of Iran".

Kuwait's state-run KUNA news agency also confirmed the killing of a national.

Turkey's Dogan news agency said that the two men were shot dead while driving in the Maslak area.

Another vehicle reportedly blocked their path, with the passengers getting out and shooting them both dead.

Their burned-out vehicle was discovered in another section of the city.

Footage showed the targeted vehicle in Maslak with at least one bullet hole through the window. 

Reports said that Karimian died on the spot while the Kuwaiti national succumbed to his wounds in a Turkish hospital.

Dubai-based GEM-TV offers Western programmes not available in Iran including US game shows and Turkish soaps, which has been met with disdain by Tehran's ultra-conservative government.

Iran's government sees satellite channels as trying to culturally infiltrate the population and Westernise the country.

GEM-TV was currently expanding adding several new channels and recruiting Iranian artists and staff from inside and abroad.

Karimian was reportedly linked in the past to the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI), an exiled opposition group which Tehran sees as a criminal network.

The judiciary's Mizanonline agency said Karimian had gone to the group's Camp Ashraf base inside Iraq at the end of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

The conservative Fars news agency alleged Karimian had spent eight years at Camp Ashraf before going to Switzerland in 1996.

Karimian was tried in absentia by an Iranian court and sentenced to six years in jail for spreading "propaganda" against the Iranian regime, according to the BBC.

Family of Karimian told the BBC that the media mogul have received threats from the Iranian government recently, and was considering relocating to London for his own safety.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) - a Paris-based political group seen as the political wing of the PMOI - denounced Tehran's claims as a "forgery" and blamed the regime for his death.