UK-based Iranian opposition channel 'linked to Saudi crown prince'

UK-based Iranian opposition channel 'linked to Saudi crown prince'
Adel Abdelkarim, the owner of Iranian International opposition channel, has substantial business ties with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
2 min read
31 October, 2018
Iran International has links to Saudi Arabia [Twitter]

A UK based Iranian TV station that pushes an anti-Tehran narrative is being funded by the ruling Saudi royal court, a report has revealed.

According to a report by British newspaper The Guardian, UK-based Iranian International TV station is owned by a Saudi businessman with close links to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Adel Abdelkarim, the owner of the TV station has had a substantial working relationship with Saudi executives with a strong network, some of who have links to the royal court, including Abdulrahman al-Rashed.

He sits on the board of Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), the Middle East's largest publishing company.

Iran International, which includes a number of Iranian nationals, including human rights activists who work for the organisation has kept its Saudi links a secret, putting them and their families at risk in Iran.

"While there is little doubt that the heavy hand of the Iranian state has its fair share of responsibility for this state of affairs and the lack of public trust in the state broadcaster, it appears that Iran International is part and parcel of the Saudi crown prince's decision to take a more aggressive posture against Iran, emboldened, no doubt, by the Trump administration," Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi, a postdoctoral research fellow in modern Iranian history at the University of Oxford, told The Guardian.

The latest expose of the TV station is likely to raise more concerns about the editorial independence of a number of Saudi-linked media outlets in the UK.

Saudi Arabia has sought to push its version of controversial regional events - such as the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi - through its media outlets and spam bots on social media.

Earlier this month, Twitter identified and suspended a network of bots that pushed out pro-Saudi tweets, following the suspected murder of Khashoggi two weeks ago.

Hundreds of fake profiles had been promoting Saudi narratives - through tweets and retweets - about the alleged killing of Khashoggi until it was discovered by Twitter this week following a NBC News probe.

A spreadsheet containing hundreds of accounts that simultaneously pushed a pro-Saudi government line about the Khashoggi disappearance was presented to the social media giant by the US broadcaster.

Twitter was apparently aware of a disinformation campaign by Saudi Arabia on the platform and said they had suspended a number of pro-Riyadh accounts due to violating rules over spam.

The New Arab has contacted Adel Abdelkarim for a comment.