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TURKISH police today detained a controversial Islamic televangelist and were seeking hundreds of people linked to him for alleged crimes including forming a criminal gang, fraud, blackmail and sexual abuse.
Istanbul police said warrants were issued against Adnan Oktar and 234 of his followers, with raids carried out in Istanbul and four other cities.
Mr Oktar was detained at home in Istanbul’s posh Cengelkoy area. The state-run Anadolu news agency said 166 of the suspects had been detained so far.
Police said accusations against Mr Oktar and his group include forming a gang with criminal intent, sexual abuse of minors, sexual assault, kidnapping, blackmail, fraud, money laundering and exploitation of religious sentiments.
A court ordered that the property of all suspects be seized and government trustees appointed to companies, foundations and associations.
Turkey’s media watchdog fined Mr Oktar’s TV channel in February and suspended broadcasts of shows where he holds theological discussions surrounded by glamorous women known as “kittens.”
Mr Oktar said his arrest was “a British plot.”
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