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Exiled Iranian TV Executive Is Assassinated in Istanbul

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Exiled Iranian TV Executive Is Assassinated in Istanbul
« on: May 01, 2017, 05:43:28 am »


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Exiled Iranian TV Executive Is Assassinated in Istanbul

ISTANBUL — A dissident Iranian television executive was assassinated in Istanbul on Saturday evening, months after he was sentenced in absentia to a six-year prison term by an Iranian court for spreading propaganda.

Saeed Karimian, the owner of Gem TV, a network of television channels that broadcasts in Farsi and other languages, was shot as he drove through an upscale neighborhood of northern Istanbul “minutes after leaving his office,” Gem announced on Sunday. Also killed was his Kuwaiti business partner, whose name has not been released.

The assailants fled, and their vehicle was found abandoned and partly destroyed in another part of Istanbul, according to reports by Gem and several Turkish news outlets. Sukru Genc, the mayor of the district in Istanbul where the attack occurred, confirmed the killing in an interview. The attackers’ motive was not immediately clear. Mr. Genc said he had been told by police investigators that Mr. Karimian had been killed because of “a dispute over money.”

Mr. Karimian’s company has made dozens of soap operas and holds the broadcasting rights to several famous Turkish dramas. Gem, which has offices in Istanbul and Dubai, has expanded beyond its Farsi programming and also broadcasts in Arabic, Azeri and Kurdish.

“At this stage, all I know is that the most likely motivation behind the assassination could have been financial disputes between Mr. Karimian and his wide networks of business partners from Dubai to Malaysia,” said Ali Vaez, the senior Iran analyst for the Crisis Group, a research institute focusing on international affairs.

Others sensed the hand of the Iranian state. The National Council of Resistance of Iran, an exiled opposition group, claimed that Mr. Karimian was assassinated by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on the orders of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s head of state. Iran has been accused of assassinating Iranian exiles in the past, most recently Abbas Yazdi, an Anglo-Iranian businessman who was kidnapped in Dubai in 2013 and is now thought to be dead.

In January, an Iranian court announced in a judicial newspaper that Mr. Karimian had been sentenced to six years in prison for spreading propaganda against the country’s Islamic government, and acting against national security. The Iranian government sees westernized entertainment, such as the types of series broadcast by Mr. Karimian, as a threat to the conservative society it has built in Iran since seizing power in a revolution in 1979.

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