Turkey arrests televangelist Adnan Oktar on multiple charges

Controversial televangelist Adnan Oktar and some of his followers face charges ranging from sexual assault to espionage.

Al Jazeera/July 11, 2018

A notorious televangelist has been arrested by Turkish police from his home on dozens of charges that include fraud, sexual assault, and military espionage.

Adnan Oktar was arrested in Istanbul by the city's police financial crimes unit after an operation that had spread over five provinces, Anadolu Agency reported.

According to Turkish daily Hurriyet, security forces seized an arms cache, body armours and armoured vehicles at the televangelist's residence. Oktar was caught as he was trying to run away, the daily added.

A total of 235 arrest warrants were issued in a major crackdown on his supporters, with 79 arrested so far in raids supported by helicopters.

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.

Oktar is the host of talk show programmes on his television channel, A9, where he mixes discussion of Islam and dancing with women he calls "kittens".

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".

The televangelist was taken to the Haseki State Hospital in Istanbul for medical checks following his arrest.

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

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.

Oktar's controversial views extend to evolution, which he argued was at the root of global violence.

According to his website, he has written more than 300 books that have been translated into 73 languages under his pen-name Harun Yahya.

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