Al-Monitor | Arash Karami: Saeed Karimian, the owner of a popular Dubai-based, Persian-language satellite channel, was gunned down in Istanbul on April 29. Karimian’s GEM TV, which airs dubbed Western programs into the homes of Iranians, has long been a target of criticism of conservative Iranian officials. In March 2017, Iran’s judiciary sentenced Karimian in absentia to six years in prison for propaganda against the state.
Two masked men in a jeep in an upscale Istanbul neighborhood confronted Karimian and his Kuwaiti business partner, Mohammad Shallahi, on the road. Karimian was shot 27 times and died on the scene. Shallahi was shot three times and died later at the hospital. The attackers later burned the jeep.
In his weekly news conference, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said April 30, “The incident is being pursued via diplomatic channels, and we have officially called on the Turkish government to promptly inform us of the results of its investigations.”
Early investigations by Turkish authorities have so far ruled out Iranian involvement in Karimian’s assassination. Istanbul’s district mayor suggested the murder was related to a financial dispute. Iranian media outlets claimed that Karimian’s GEM TV was in financial trouble. An article in the Reformist Shargh Daily wrote that Karimian had borrowed money from “dangerous investors” to fund his struggling satellite channel but used it for his own personal investments in Turkey.