Andre Vltchek, described as an “investigative journalist”, passed away as the couple arrived at their hotel in a chauffeured vehicle. According to reports she tried to revive him, thinking he was sleeping, but he was unresponsive.
Turkish police, quoted by local media, say he had arrived at his hotel in a Mercedes minivan in the trendy Karakoy district of Istanbul at 5:30 am after a nine-hour trip from the Black Sea city of Samsun.
Police dispatched a crime scene investigations team after medics announced he was dead and officers are questioning his wife and the two drivers transporting them.
Vltchek, 57, had written for The Guardian and other mainstream publications. But he was also a contributor to 21st Century Wire and Veterans Today, conspiracy theory websites which often propagate Kremlin messaging, and a frequent guest on Iranian and Russian state television.
Police did not immediately say why they thought the death was suspicious.
Several high-profile foreign journalists and media figures have been assassinated in Istanbul, most notably Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was slaughtered in the Saudi consulate in October 2018.
Others to have died in Turkey include Iranian dissidents Saeed Karimian, a TV executive, and Masoud Molavi, a blogger, who were gunned down in what appeared to be professional assassinations.
Vltchek, a Russian immigrant to the US, was a staunch and outspoken supporter of Moscow and Beijing. In an interview with Turkey’s nationalist Aydinlik newspaper on 12 September, he called for Turkey to turn to China and Russia instead of the west.
He also appeared to have health problems, which he described on social media.
“I came to Europe, on a speaking tour, and collapsed from exhaustion,” he wrote on Twitter on 22 August. “My feet refused to carry me. Absolute downfall.”
In recent months, Vltchek appeared to find inspiration in the Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. as well as anti-government surges in Chile.
“For years, decades I was documenting [the] suffering of our world, exposing [the] horrid crimes of Western imperialism,” he wrote in June. “I gave all I had, including health. Only [a] few of us dared. But I am glad I did. Now [the] world is waking up.”