One week after his detention, Adnan Oktar, the head of a shadowy cult with links to Israel, was referred to court yesterday, along with 91 other suspects, including his followers and aides.
Oktar was detained near his mansion in Istanbul as he tried to flee with Didem Ürer, an aide and one of the many women he surrounds himself with. Police rounded up 187 suspects in operations against what they called the Adnan Oktar Criminal Organization, and the remaining suspects were expected to be referred to court in the coming days. Forty prosecutors were assigned to the case to interrogate the suspects who are charged with everything from running a criminal organization to sexual abuse and money laundering. He is also charged with espionage and media outlets reported his close ties to Israel whose relations with Turkey remain strained due to Turkey's pro-Palestinian stance.
Oktar often hosted delegations from Israel and rabbis, including Yehuda Glick, an anti-Palestinian rabbi known for his call to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a sacred site for Muslims. Israeli media says Oktar maintained friendship with Israeli politicians and rabbis and often sent his followers to that country to improve relations. The charge sheet against Oktar and other suspects is a long list of crimes, but it focuses on his organization's alleged espionage and sexual abuse, as well as blackmail. The 62-year-old Oktar is known for surrounding himself with women, and media reports say his followers blackmailed women by secretly recording their sexual acts, and Oktar himself brainwashed the women, mostly from wealthy families, to join his cult.
The cult leader is primarily known for a series of books challenging the theory of evolution he wrote under the pseudonym "Harun Yahya." He first made headlines in the 1980s when he was arrested for promoting a theocracy. The cult leader was charged with blackmail 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.