Turkish 'sex cult' leader sentenced to 1,000 years in prison

James Rothwell
A Turkish court has sentenced a Muslim televangelist who surrounded himself with scantily clad women he called "kittens" to more than 1,000 years in jail for sex crimes - AFP/AFP
A Turkish court has sentenced a Muslim televangelist who surrounded himself with scantily clad women he called "kittens" to more than 1,000 years in jail for sex crimes - AFP/AFP

A Turkish court has sentenced the leader of a sex cult to one thousand years in prison for a litany of sexual offences and fraud.

Adnan Oktar, who promoted creationism on his conservative Islamic TV channel, was known for surrounding himself with scantily dressed women whom he called his “kittens” before his arrest in 2018.

He was detained with around 200 other suspects by Istanbul police and on Monday was jailed for 1,075 years for crimes including sexual assault, sexual abuse of children, fraud and attempted political and military espionage.

The 64-year-old was also found guilty of backing a group led by the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey says was behind an attempted military coup in 2016.

The court sentenced two executives in Oktar's organisation, Tarkan Yavas and Oktar Babuna, to 211 and 186 years, respectively.

During the trial, which heard harrowing testimonies from victims of sexual abuse, Oktar denied being associated with Mr Gulen and also insisted he was not the head of a "sex cult".

At a hearing in September, Mr Oktar told a judge he had around 1,000 “girlfriends” which he attributed to his “overflowing of love in my heart for women.”

He also claimed on a separate occasion to be “extraordinarily potent.”

One victim who gave evidence at the trial, and was identified only as CC for legal reasons, said Oktar repeatedly sexually abused her and other women.

The woman, who joined the cult aged 17, said some of the women raped by Oktar had been forced to take contraceptives afterwards.

 Adnan Oktar (centre) was known as a bizarre and controversial figure in Turkey
Adnan Oktar (centre) was known as a bizarre and controversial figure in Turkey

When police raided Oktar’s home they found 69,000 contraceptive pills, which he claimed were used for treating skin disorders and mental health issues.

Following his arrest in 2018, Turkish authorities demolished the villa he used as a studio for his televangelist TV channel, which claimed that Darwin’s theory of evolution was false.

The channel, A9, began broadcasting in 2011 and was frequently condemned by Turkey's religious leaders, who took issue with him posing alongside heavily made-up and scantily dressed women.

Oktar wrote under a pen name a 700-page book advocating creationism, “The Atlas of Creation,” sending unsolicited copies to academics, libraries and members of Congress in the United States.

The book was mocked at the time for being riddled with basic scientific errors.

He also set up a website dedicated to criticising the BBC and after his arrest claimed that he was the victim of a British intelligence operation.