ISTANBUL Controversial Turkish Islamic author
Adnan Oktar was sentenced to three years in prison on Friday
for creating an illegal organization for personal gain,
state-run Anatolian news agency said.
A spokeswoman for his Science Research Foundation (BAV)
confirmed to Reuters that Oktar had been sentenced but said the
judge was influenced by political and religious pressure
Oktar had been tried with 17 other defendants in an
Istanbul court. The verdict and sentence came after a previous
trial that began in 2000 after Oktar, along with 50 members of
his foundation, was arrested in 1999.
In that court case, Oktar had been charged with using
threats for personal benefit and creating an organization with
the intent to commit a crime. The charges were dropped but
another court picked them up resulting in the latest case.
Oktar planned to appeal the sentence, a BAV spokeswoman
said. No further details were immediately available.
Oktar, born in 1956, is the driving force behind a richly
funded movement based in Turkey that champions creationism, the
belief that God literally created the world in six days as told
in the Bible and the Koran.
Istanbul-based Oktar, who writes under the pen name Harun
Yahya, has created waves in the past few years by sending out
thousands of unsolicited texts advocating Islamic creationism
to schools in several European countries.
The court decision comes at a time when political tensions
in officially secular but predominantly Muslim Turkey are high
as the ruling AK Party faces a court case that seeks its
closure for alleged Islamist activities, a claim the party
Oktar's teachings echo those of Christian fundamentalists
in the United States. He has publicly denounced Darwinism and
Freemasonry in high-profile attacks.
Charles Darwin came up with the widely adopted evolutionary
theory of natural selection in the 19th century.
Oktar's publishing house has published dozens of books that
have been distributed in more than 150 countries and been
translated into more than 50 languages. He has a wide following
in the Muslim world.
But Turkish commentators say the group's books, numbering
more than 200, are probably written by a pool of writers, a
charge the author denies.