Suspicious Death of American Journalist in Turkey, After Death Threats From Secret Police

Suspicious Death of American Journalist in Turkey, After Death Threats From Secret Police

UPDATE:  Mother Asks State Department to Investigate

November 9. 2014

The mother of an Lebanese-American journalist killed in Turkey while working for an Iranian news agency suspects foul play in the death of her daughter, who perished in what Turkish officials say was a traffic accident.

Serena Shim, a U.S. citizen from Michigan and mother of two, was working for Iran’s state-owned network Press TV when she was killed after the rental car she was riding in collided with a cement mixer Oct. 26 in the Turkish town of Suruc, near the Turkish-Syrian border. The accident came just days after Shim said she had been threatened by Turkish intelligence services, who accused her of being a spy.

“I believe my daughter gave her life for the truth,” Judy Poe, Shim’s mother, told Friday from her home in Harrison Township, Mich. “I absolutely suspect foul play.”

Poe insisted her daughter’s death was “no accident,” and called on the U.S. and Iranian governments to investigate the crash. Poe, who claims she was in regular contact with Shim, said her 29-year-old daughter had been threatened by Turkish officials after reporting ISIS militants were being smuggled back and forth across the Syrian-Turkish border in the back of aid vehicles.

Poe did not elaborate on who, specifically, could have been involved, saying her daughter “feared for her life and had been threatened.”

In a televised report days before she was killed, Shim said, “I am very surprised at this accusation [of espionage]. I’ve even thought of actually approaching Turkish intelligence and — because I have nothing to hide — I’ve never done anything aside from my job and I’d like to make that apparent to them.”

“However, I am a bit worried because as you know, and as the viewers know, that Turkey has been labeled by Reporters Without Borders as the largest prison for journalists,” Shim said. “So I am a bit frightened about what they might use against me.”

At the time of her death, Shim was covering the ongoing war between Iraqi Kurdish forces and ISIS militants for control of the strategic Syrian town of Kobani. Shim was killed while traveling with a female cousin along a one-way, three-lane highway in Turkey’s Urfa Province, according to her mother. Her cousin, who was driving Shim’s car, did not sustain life-threatening injuries.

Photographs of the crash in Turkish media reports show what appears to be Shim’s vehicle in a head-on collision with a large cement truck — despite traveling along a one-way highway.

The images, Poe claims, show a “shoddy job” that “tell us everything,” suggesting the scene was staged to look like an accident.

 Serena shim car

The driver of the vehicle was subsequently arrested, according to Turkish news agency Hurriyet, citing the Turkish Doğan News Agency. Press TV disputed this, alleging that both driver and vehicle have disappeared.

Press TV Journalist Killed in Suspicious Car Accident After Receiving Death Threats

October 25, 2014

WASHINGTON – The death of an American journalist who worked in the Middle East has come under suspicion because she had claimed days before her death that the Turkish intelligence services had threatened her over her coverage of the siege of the Syrian city of Kobani.

Serena Shim, an American citizen of Lebanese origin, was a journalist for Iran’s state-owned Press TV. She was killed in a car crash in the city of Suruc after she reportedly collided with a “heavy vehicle.”

She was in a rental car returning from her assignment when the crash occurred. Neither the “heavy vehicle” nor its driver has been located, although her driver reportedly was arrested.

Just days before her death, she had expressed concerns to colleagues and later on camera that she could be arrested by Turkish officials over her reporting. She disclosed that ISIS jihadists were being smuggled into Turkey and back into Syria in the back of humanitarian aid vehicles.

Suruc was located near the Turkish-Syrian border where most of the international media are assembled to cover the Kobani siege by ISIS.

Press TV news director Hamid Reza Emadi says the “suspicious death,” of the news channel’s correspondent in Turkey is a tragedy for “anyone who wants to get the truth.”

Emadi made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Sunday following Serena Shim’s death across the border from Syria’s Kurdish city of Kobani, where the ISIL terrorists and Kurdish fighters are engaged in heavy battles.

“Serena told the stories,” Emadi said, referring to Turkey’s role in the crisis, including “how Ankara collaborated with those terrorists,” and “blocked Kurdish fighters from entering Kobani” to help tackle the ISIL.

“She was a wonderful young lady from Tennessee working as a reporter for Press TV in southern Turkey,” Franklin Lamb, an international lawyer and friend of Shim, told WND.

“She was preparing to return to the United States and to her mother,” he said. “She was a lovely young woman, smart, funny, hardworking, very American, open, optimistic. She wanted to help the world and alleviate struggle,” said Lamb.

A statement from Press TV said that Shim leaves behind two children, Ali, age 4, and Ajmal, 2.

“The tragic death of Serena Shim has left pain and sorrow in our hearts,” the statement said. “Her family is calling on the Turkish government to provide answers over the circumstance leading to her death.


 Hypocritical Western Media Remains Silent

When Are Journalists’ Deaths Newsworthy?

In the wake of Shim’s death and the shameful lack of coverage it has received in the West, disturbing questions emerge as to the attitude of Western media toward the assaults, kidnappings, and killings and/or suspicious deaths of journalists. Specifically, major media outlets and their respective governments and corporate owners must explain why certain journalists’ deaths are international news stories sparking global outrage and serving as the pretexts for military engagement, while others are conveniently swept under the rug, receiving at best a passing mention.

The international outcry over the kidnapping and beheading of James Foley dominated the headlines for weeks, and served as the immediate justification for the US-led airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. Aside from glowing tributes to Foley from nearly every major media organization, and a memorial page dedicated to him and his fans established by Reporters Without Borders, even President Obama spoke of Foley, describing him as “a man who lived his work, who courageously told the stories of his fellow human beings, who was liked and loved by friends and family…We will do everything we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for.” Such high praise coming from the President himself demonstrates the political and social significance of Foley’s death for the US.

And yet, Serena Shim who, like Foley, was a US citizen receives no such coverage. There are no glowing tributes from news organizations, most of which haven’t even bothered to report on her suspicious death. There are few stories even mentioning the incident and, the few that there are, painstakingly attempt to frame the incident as an accident, validating the assertions of Turkish officials, despite there having been no investigation, and the more-than-coincidental death threats she had received just hours before. There has been no public statement as yet from Reporters Without Borders or any other press freedom organization charged with protecting and promoting freedom of the press and the universal protection of journalists. Why? What is the difference between Serena Shim and James Foley that explains the striking disparity in the media coverage and public outcry?

“We are proud of her, she was born to be a hero and remained a hero until the end, working on the frontline,” her father Aly Shim told RT Arabic.


  1. Being a real journalist is a dangerous job. It appears it cost her her life.

  2. It sounds like she had some knowledge about the Turks aiding the Syrians.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.