Turkish police have arrested the controversial cult leader Adnan Oktar who is famous around the Muslim world under his pen name Harun Yahya.
Oktar is well known for giving televised religious sermons surrounded by scantily-clad young women he refers to as his “kittens.”
As “Harun Yahya” he has published and distributed scores of books and documentaries on subjects such as creationism and evolution that have been widely consumed by Muslim audiences.
Oktar was detained on Wednesday morning on suspicion of fraud, alongside more than 100 of his followers in a series of raids. You can see video footage of his arrest here.
Turkey’s financial crimes police were behind the morning raids on Mr Oktar and his followers. They were arrested on suspicion of a litany of charges, including running a criminal organisation, tax offences, sexual abuse, and counter-terrorism laws.
Turkish media said 166 of his followers were arrested, but a total of 235 are being sought.
State-run news agency Andalou said he was on the financial crimes unit “most wanted” list – and had been caught while getting ready to flee. More than 50 guns were seized during the series of raids, along with ammunition, Andalou said.
Assets belonging to Mr Oktar and all 235 suspects have been confiscated by the courts, it added.
Before being led away, he told journalists that the allegations made against him were “lies” and “a game by the British deep state”, a topic he has frequently spoken about in the past.
He told Cumhuriyet newspaper that the operation was requested by the “British intelligence”.
“The British intelligence has long wanted an operation to be launched on us. A delegation was sent to Turkey in this regard. This request was conveyed to [President Recep Tayyip Erdogan] during his visit to the UK,” he said.
The preacher’s views have earned him a degree of notoriety both in Turkey and abroad, having been arrested multiple times in the past, and having spent time both in prison and a mental hospital over the years.