Turkey Sex Cult Chief Sentenced to More Than 1,000 Years in Jail

A Turkish Islamic televangelist was sentenced to 1,075 years in jail on Monday for running a decades-old cult whose members were accused of crimes ranging from sexual assault to blackmail, money laundering and even espionage.

Adnan Oktar, who wrote books on Islamic creationism under the pseudonym Harun Yahya, was put on trial in Istanbul alongside 236 other alleged members or enablers of his network, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Turkey Sex Cult Chief Sentenced to More Than 1,000 Years in Jail

He became well-known in Turkey over the years, especially for provocative TV shows broadcast on his own channel. On screen, the cult leader surrounded himself with young women he called his “kittens,” who were often dressed in revealing clothing while he uttered opinions on religious and political matters.

Oktar, 64, and hundreds of his followers were arrested in 2018 and his TV channel was shut down.

His “Atlas of Creation” -- which argues against evolution, saying all life was created by God in a “perfect” form -- was spotted last year on a bookshelf behind European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde as she spoke at an online summit on the pandemic.

Thousands of free copies of the book had been mailed to politicians, journalists and schools around the world. Lagarde had never read the book, a person familiar with the matter said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.