A court in Istanbul sentenced Turkish sex cult leader Adnan Oktar to more than 1,075 years in prison on Monday, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
The Turkish court sentenced Oktar to 1,075 years and three months in prison for charges of “founding and leading a criminal organization, political or military espionage, aiding Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) even though not being its member, sexual abuse of minors, sexual abuse, deprivation of liberty of person, torture, disturbance of right to education, recording personal data, and threat,” according to Anadolu Agency, which cited an anonymous judicial source.
FETO is the Islamist Turkish government’s name for Hizmet, an Islamic movement led by cleric Fethullah Gülen. Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania, for a failed coup attempt in 2016. Gülen denies all involvement and the Erdogan government has yet to present any legitimate concrete evidence for its claims. Imprisoned Erdogan opponents often receive charges of either being a member of Hizmet or somehow aiding the organization.
Oktar was tried on January 11 along with 235 other defendants after a previous trial that began in September 2019. Turkish authorities arrested Oktar in July 2018 along with 160 of his associates on charges of “forming a criminal gang, fraud, and sexual abuse.”
The 64-year-old is known as a “cult leader and controversial Islamic author” in Turkey according to the Istanbul-based Demirören News Agency, and as “the world’s foremost Islamic creationist,” according to a Hürriyet Daily News profile on Oktar in 2014.
Prior to his 2018 arrest, Oktar owned A9, a private Turkish television station, on which he regularly appeared to promote his unique brand of Islam, described by Balkanist magazine in 2014 as a “sexed-up, Disney version of Islam.”
“Oktar’s TV channel broadcast his shows surrounded by women he referred to as his ‘kittens,'” Demirören News recalled on Monday.
Oktar’s “FETO” terrorism charge on Monday likely contributed to his 1,075-year prison sentence, as Turkey’s legal system notoriously assigns obscenely long sentences to accused terrorists.
Oktar’s arrest in July 2018 followed shortly after Erdogan’s election to a new presidential term the previous month. Some observers believe the sex cult leader’s detention was orchestrated as part of a larger government crackdown on what Erdogan’s administration views as immoral elements within Turkey’s Islamic society. Oktar had grown critical of Erdogan’s government in the years leading up to his 2018 arrest despite previously expressing support for the conservative leader.
A court in Turkey filed a restraining order against Oktar in January 2018 after a Turkish man accused the televangelist of brainwashing his two daughters. In an interview with Turkish TV, the man explained that “his friends notified him when they saw two girls at the ages of 19 and 17 on a live broadcast of Oktar’s TV show, among other young women in heavy makeup.” The man then realized the two girls were his missing daughters.
Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, Diyanet, publicly supported the restraining order’s filing.
“There are certain religious references and he makes belly dancers dance. Is such a thing possible? He has most likely lost his mental balance,” Diyanet president Dr. Ali Erbas said of Oktar and his TV station after a meeting with Turkish media representatives to discuss the restraining order against him in January 2018.
“It is hair-raising to watch. It is not right to watch a channel like that,” Erbas said, calling Oktar “a corrupted person.”
Oktar responded to the Diyanet director’s accusations claiming that employees of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs “earn their salaries from income and taxes coming from casinos and beverage factories,” referring to alcoholic beverage factories.
“Have you ever made a statement about these issues? Have you ever raised your voice about this? You have kept silent,” he alleged.