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Ambiguity Surrounds Assassination of Iranian Opposition Member in Istanbul | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A view of a burnt jeep abandoned by the suspects after GEM TV founder Saeed Karimian was shot dead in Istanbul, Turkey, April 29, 2017. (Reuters)

Ankara, Kuwait – Ambiguity surrounded the assassination of Iranian opposition businessman Saeed Karimian and his Kuwaiti business partner, Mohammad Metab al-Shalahi in the upscale Maslak neighborhood of northern Istanbul on Saturday night.

The two men were killed by masked shooters driving a vehicle, which Turkish police said was later found abandoned and burned in another part of Istanbul.

Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that preliminary reports showed that financial issues related to television channels owned by Karimian, who is also a British national, and Al-Shalahi may have prompted the crime.

The Kuwaiti sources said on Sunday that Al-Shalahi was killed “accidentally” due to his presence with his Iranian partner when the assassination took place.

Karimian’s activities and connections also promoted the possibility of a political assassination.

The Iranian businessman is the owner of GEM TV, the biggest network of television channels that speak against the Iranian regime.

Karimian was previously sentenced in absentia to prison by an Iranian court for spreading propaganda against the regime. He was also accused of being affiliated to the Iranian opposition organization abroad, the “Mujahideen Khalq.”

Hours after the assassination, journalist and political activist Amir Fakhravar, who is close to Karimian, published photos accusing the Iranian authorities of standing behind the assassination.

Turkey’s Dogan news agency said on Sunday that Karimian and his associate were driving in Istanbul’s Maslak neighborhood on Saturday night when their car was blocked by a jeep. Karimian was killed by 27 shots fired at him. Al-Shalahi was hit with three bullets, and died later at the hospital.

Until Sunday, Istanbul police did not comment on the shooting. No party claimed responsibility for the assassination.