LOCAL NEWS

Turkish police arrest TV preacher and followers accused of fraud, sexual abuse

Allegations against his "criminal organization" include sexual abuse, kidnapping of minors

Anadolu Agency

Turkish police arrested Islamic television preacher and author Adnan Oktar and more than 160 of his followers in dawn raids across Turkey on Wednesday, saying they were suspected of forming a criminal gang, fraud and sexual abuse.

Officers from the financial crimes section carried out raids in five provinces and were still searching some properties, Istanbul police said in a statement.

Oktar runs his own television channel A9 on which he has hosted talk shows on Islamic values. On occasion he was broadcast dancing with young women he called "kittens" and singing with young men, his "lions".

In February, Turkey's television watchdog suspended a television programme hosted by Oktar that blended theological discussion and dancing, saying it violated gender equality and women's rights.

Police seize numerous valuables, antiques in operation against Turkish televangelist
Anadolu Agency

Police seize numerous valuables, antiques in operation against Turkish televangelist

Video shows valuable artifacts and antiques being unloaded after an operation launched on Wednesday at televangelist Adnan Oktar's residence, who was arrested on several charges in Istanbul.

Hurryiet newspaper said police raided Oktar's house at Cengelkoy on the Asian side of Istanbul, detaining him and his guards who tried to resist and flee.

Police said they had so far arrested 166 people out of 235 sought suspects.

Accompanied by police, Oktar held up his handcuffed arms as he emerged after a mandatory health check at hospital before being taken to a police station in Istanbul.

State-run Anadolu news agency broadcast footage of a police helicopter hovering over the area where one raid was being conducted and said a police maritime unit was also involved in the operation.

Oktar has in the past accused British intelligence of requesting the Turkish authorities to take action against him.

Oktar, whose began forming groups of followers at the end of the 1970s, has faced a number of trials on charges including forming a criminal gang, but was acquitted.

According to his website, Oktar has written more than 300 books, translated into 73 languages, including one under his pen-name Harun Yahya in which he argues that Darwin's theory of evolution is at the root of global terrorism.

Reuters tried to contact Oktar's A9 Channel for comment, but calls to its headquarters went unanswered.

Police arrest televangelist Adnan Oktar
Anadolu Agency

Police arrest televangelist Adnan Oktar

Istanbul police arrested controversial televangelist Adnan Oktar, known abroad as "Harun Yahya" early Wednesday. Police also launched an operation to arrest 235 people, who are suspected to have links with his "gang."Oktar has been placed in 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 gang has been accused of several crimes including; establishing an organization with felon intent, child sexual abuse, sexual intercourse with a minor, kidnapping, retaining a minor, violating tax procedure law, and violating anti-terror law.The operation is being carried out across five province, with many suspects nabbed.Oktar, owns a TV channel called "A9", where he runs a show discussing religious and social issues, while surrounding himself with surgically enhanced women, who he refers to as his “kittens".



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