Turkey: Police arrest televangelist Adnan Oktar

Remigio Civitarese
Luglio 11, 2018

Adnan Oktar, a freakish and controversial figure who also denies evolution, was detained alongside dozens of mainly female alleged supporters on accusations of fraud, bribery and sexual assault.

Turkish police on Wednesday detained on fraud charges a televangelist notorious for propagating conservative views while surrounded by scantily-clad women he refers to as his "kittens".

Oktar, who is regarded by critics as a cult leader, hosts talk shows on his television channel, A9, on which he has discussed Islamic values and sometimes dances with heavily made-up, surgically enhanced young women and sings with young men, his "lions". More than 100 of those to be detained are women. "This is a conspiracy by the British deep state", he replied as he was escorted from a police vehicle to the hospital.

He often rails against the so-called "British deep state" in his programme and in one video, he says it has "sneakily disguised itself" and is linked to criminal groups.

According to a statement by the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office, Oktar "was caught while he attempted to run away" from the police.

In 2006, Oktar wrote the Atlas of Creation under his pen-name Harun Yahya, arguing that Darwin's theory of evolution is at the root of global terrorism.

In raids supported by helicopter in Istanbul and three other provinces, officers have already detained 79 people, the newspaper reported.

Oktar first came to media attention in the 1990s when he was the leader of a sect caught up in multiple sex scandals.

He is also accused of "setting up an organisation with the aim of committing crime", "committing fraud through abuse of religious belief and sentiment", state-run Anadolu news agency said.

The detention warrant accuses Oktar and his followers of dozens of charges, including money laundering, forming a criminal organisation, sexual abuse of children, torture, illegal recording of personal data, and political and military espionage.

Weapons including guns and rifles were also found during the raids, the agency said.

He has been regularly denounced by Turkey's religious authorities, with Ali Erbas, head of Turkey's Diyanet religious affairs agency earlier this year saying that Oktar had "likely lost his mental balance".

In February, Turkey's audiovisual authority RTUK ordered a programme presented by Oktar to cease broadcasting five times and handed down a fine because it violated gender equality and belittled women.

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