Televangelist's Jail Sentence Is Jaw-Dropping

Turkish cult leader Adnan Oktar gets 8,658 years behind bars
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2022 8:55 AM CST
Cult Preacher Who Bragged of 'Kittens' Gets 8.6K Years in Jail
Adnan Oktar is seen during a media conference in Istanbul on May 12, 2011.   (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

It doesn't look like Adnan Oktar is getting out of prison anytime soon. The 66-year-old Turkish televangelist—notorious for his rants against evolution and the "British deep state," and for surrounding himself with young women he called "kittens"—found out his fate Wednesday in an Istanbul court after being convicted of sexual assault and abuse of minors. It was a jaw-dropping reveal: 8,658 years behind bars, reports the BBC. It's not actually a record-breaking sentence from that particular court, which once handed down a sentence of 9,803 years and six months, but the Daily Sabah notes it's "still one of the longest in the country and in the world."

At least 10 other defendants in the case also received 8,658 years on Wednesday. Often described as a cult leader, Oktar and hundreds of followers were arrested in 2018 on a slew of charges, including sexual abuse, tax breaches, and running a criminal organization. Per Al Jazeera, the raid on his residence turned up that his illegal activities operated "under the disguise of a heterodox Islamic cult [that] carried out international antievolution campaigns."

Oktar, who preached his views on creationism and other conservative talking points on TV while his "kittens" fawned over him, was convicted in early 2021 of 10 separate charges, including rape, taking part in political and military espionage, blackmail, and sexual abuse of minors. His sentence at the time was a relatively light 1,075 years, but that conviction was eventually overturned by a higher court. A retrial led to his current conviction and sentence. The BBC notes that Oktar had been arrested many times before his 2018 detention, and that he has also done stints in both prison and in a psychiatric facility. (More Turkey stories.)

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