Istanbul police arrest cult leader Adnan Oktar, search for 234 cult members | Eurasia Diary -

19 February, Tuesday

Istanbul police arrest cult leader Adnan Oktar, search for 234 cult members

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Istanbul police arrested cult leader Adnan Oktar in an operation launched early Wednesday to detain him and 235 suspects tied to his cult.
Oktar has been placed on the wanted list issued by Combating Financial Crimes department of the provincial police, said security sources, who refused to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
The cult faces allegations ranging from child abuse, sexual assault, abduction, exploitation of religious beliefs, blackmailing, and political and military espionage. Oktar and his cult have faced similar allegations in the past.
The operation is being carried out across five provinces, with at least 79 suspects nabbed.
Police units raided 115 addresses in Istanbul's 22 districts including Oktar's secretive compound in Çengelköy neighborhood, three addresses in Ankara's two districts and one address each in Muğla and Antalya provinces.
During the raids, numerous guns and bullets, bulletproof vests and an armored SUV were seized.
Oktar was captured in the compound while he was trying to escape.
In his first remarks while being brought to a hospital for health checks, Oktar claimed that the detentions are a "plot of British deep state," a conspiracy theory often used by the cult leader to explain events around the world. Onlookers in the hospital were heard jeering at Oktar as he was being transferred to Istanbul Police Department headquarters.
However, Tarkan Yavaş -- dubbed the No. 2 of the criminal organization who is being sought on 20 charges including sexual exploitation of a minor, fraud and international espionage -- managed to escape. Yavaş is reportedly armed.
Oktar Babuna, who is among the close circle of Oktar, was among the detained. Babuna, the son of a renowned gynecology professor who made creationist television programs that praised Oktar, is best known for a mass marrow donation campaign in 1999 in which tens of thousands of people donated marrow and blood samples to help Babuna to overcome leukemia, which was also backed by conservative media outlets. However, it was alleged at the time that some 120,000 samples out of 160,000 donations were lost and sent to the U.S. The health ministry launched an investigation at the time due to suspicions over the campaign, but blood and marrow samples could not be retrieved.
All of Oktar's assets were seized and his companies were appointed with trustees.
Oktar surrounds himself with young women and good-looking men during his programs where he delves into everything from evolution theory to the "British deep state" on his A9 TV. He affectionately calls the young women on his show "kittens." His critics claim that he brainwashes young women and men from wealthy families into joining his cult, a claim he had repeatedly denied.
This file photo shows the so-called "kittens" of Adnan Oktar.
The objectification of women in his shows often comes under heavy criticism from women's rights groups and both conservative and secular segments of Turkish society. His show was previously fined by the country's broadcasting watchdog Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK).
In Wednesday's operation, 106 arrest warrants were issued for women.
Oktar, 62, who is primarily known for a series of books challenging the theory of evolution he wrote under the pseudonym "Harun Yahya," first made headlines in the 1980s when he was arrested for promoting theocracy.
The cult leader was charged with blackmailing and was arrested in September 1999, but the charges were dismissed after a two-year-long trial.
After a court found him mentally ill, he spent 10 months in a psychiatric hospital and, after his release, he kept a relatively low profile. He established a foundation in 1995 and started publishing books on creationism. He became a household name after he launched a TV station in 2011 where his bizarre TV shows stirred up controversy and made him a favorite topic of internet memes. Bordering on obscenity, as scantily-clad dancers perform in between Oktar's speeches peppered with religious references, his shows often receive complaints at the country's TV watchdog.
Most recently, a Turkish man living in Austria accused Oktar of brainwashing his daughters into submission. Elvan Koçak, who divorced his wife years ago for her devotion to Oktar, told a Turkish TV station that his two teenage daughters were brainwashed by Oktar.

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