Turkey arrests televangelist Adnan Oktar on multiple charges

Evarado Alatorre
Julio 11, 2018

Turkish televangelist Adnan Oktar has blamed the "British deep state" over his detention in Istanbul along with dozens of his followers on July 11, with several charges ranging from sexual abuse to military espionage against him.

Many of his TV appearances were weird, from dancing to the hit song "Gangnam Style" to surrounding himself with glamorous, scantily dressed young women he referred to as "kittens".

Oktar, who critics see as the leader of a cult, gained notoriety for his programmes on the online A9 television channel and had regularly been denounced by Turkey's religious leaders. More than 100 of those to be detained are women.

"This is a conspiracy by the British deep state", he told reporters as he was escorted from a police auto to the hospital.

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

Istanbul police said warrants were issued against Oktar and 234 of his followers and that financial crime units were carrying out operations in Istanbul and four other cities to detain them.

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.

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Elvan Kocak, a Turk living in Austria, filed a lawsuit against Oktar earlier this year, accusing him of kidnapping his two daughters, after he saw them on one of the televangelist's broadcasts.

Oktar is the author of the "Atlas of Creation" a book in which he claims to challenge Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

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", Anadolu said. As a result, he had faced similar criminal charges of setting up a criminal organisation.

A court ordered that the property of all suspects be seized and government trustees were appointed to companies, foundations and associations, according to Anadolu.

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

In February, Turkey's television watchdog suspended a television programme hosted by Oktar that blended theological discussion and dancing, saying it violated gender equality and belittled women.

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