Turkish cult leader sentenced to more than 1,000 years for sex crimes, espionage

A Turkish court on Monday sentenced Islamist cult group leader Adnan Oktar to 1075 years in prison over charges of founding a criminal organisation and sexual abuse.

The controversial television evangelist was put on trial in Istanbul along with some 236 suspects who are alleged members of his network, state-runAnadolu news agency reported.

Oktar was found guilty of a string of charges, including multiple counts of "sexual abuse of minors,’’ "torture,’’ "deprivation of freedom,’’ and "political and military espionage,’’ the agency said. 

Oktar, who wrote numerous books on Islamic creationism under the pseudonym Harun Yahya, was arrested pending trial in 2018 on suspicion of running a criminal organisation, tax offences, sexual abuse, and violating counter-terrorism laws.

The 64-year-old cult leader is known for his entourage of women, referred to as "kittens,’’ which he regularly featured on his online A9 television channel that began broadcasting in 2011.

The women, who appeared to have undergone extensive plastic surgery, would accompany the Muslim televangelist dancing around the studio while frequently expressing their adoration for the cult leader.

Oktar and his followers have long been denounced by Turkey’s religious leaders and come under fire from the wider public.