A sex cult leader has been sentenced to 8,658 years in prison for the charges of sexual assault and depriving someone of their liberty after a retrial in Turkey.
Turkey sentences sex cult leader Adnan Oktar to 8,658 years in prison after retrial https://t.co/AnX3LVzRXj
— South China Morning Post (@SCMPNews) November 16, 2022
Adnan Oktar, a former televangelist and sex cult leader who was arrested last year for the charges of sexual assault and espionage, has been sentenced to a record 8,658 years in prison following a retrial in Turkey.
Oktar was imprisoned last year for several crimes, including sexually abusing minors, fraud, and attempted political and military espionage. Initially, he was arrested in Istanbul in 2018 by the city's police financial crimes unit.
Although the decision was overturned on appeal by a higher court, on November 16th, the Istanbul high criminal court sentenced Oktar and all of the 13 collaborators to 8,658 years in prison.
Oktar, who also went by the pen-name Harun Yahya, achieved international recognition for the talk show he hosted on his A9 TV channel, which usually featured a combination of religious discussions with women in skimpy outfits dancing to modern pop music. The women, alongside Oktar, were known as the "kittens" and were the most important supporters of his movement.
However, many women who left his company claimed he forced them into sexual slavery. One woman previously provided testimony at his trial that Oktar sexually assaulted her and many other women, and they were forced to take birth control pills. After a police raid, about 69,000 birth control pills were found in his home. Oktar claimed in the court that those were used for treating skin disorders and menstrual problems.
Former members of his organization have expressed their disgust about the constant sexual abuse they endured while they were part of his group and the repeated harassment they dealt with after leaving it.
A former member of Oktar's organization, Ebru Simsek, said he was "obsessed" with her after seeing her in a beauty contest on TV in 1994. After the arrest of Oktar in 2021, she saw that more than 300 defamation lawsuits were filed against her by Oktar.
"Adnan Oktar saw me on the screen and went crazy! He even said, ' I saw you in the newspaper, on TV, I liked it very much, take your pajamas and live with me in my wonderful mansion,'" she said. " ' Come here, I will offer you the best conditions, you will wear the best brands, your life will be luxurious. ' I felt that they had nothing to do with religion."
Additionally, she said that after leaving the organization, Oktar pressured her to the point that it disrupted her work and social life. As a result, she had no choice but to go to the United States to escape the harassment.
On the other hand, the supporters of Oktar claimed that he was a victim of a political set-up. Last year Aylin Kocaman, one of Oktar's followers and a former columnist for the Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, said that "a bigger hand, a deep force," is behind the trials against Oktar and his mates.
Against Oktar's arrest and trial, a few political figures have also brought some questions to the field. Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a lawyer and MP for the left-wing People's Democracy Party (HDP), has suggested that the original trial for Oktar, which happened earlier this year, had "unlawful evidence." He also criticized the use of "secret witnesses."
"If people have committed crimes, they should be tried fairly and punished accordingly," said Gergerlioglu in a statement to the parliament.