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Adnan Oktar, a Creationist preacher in Turkey, has been sentenced to 8,658 years in prison for a variety of crimes including running a criminal organization, sexual abuse, torture, and abduction. It comes after he was previously sentenced to over 1,075 years in prison, only to have that verdict overturned by an appellate court. The more recent jaw-dropping sentence came in a retrial.

If his name isn’t familiar to you, though, it’s worth going back in time a bit.

More than a decade ago, in 2006, the journal Science published this chart showing the acceptance of evolution in more than 34 countries:

The United States was waaaaaaay near the bottom of that list, with a paltry 40% of people who accepted that evolution is true. That alone sparked plenty of headlines, but also interesting was how Turkey managed to rank even lower than the U.S. when it came to science literacy.

That was largely due to Oktar, who wrote the “textbook” The Atlas of Creation (under the pen name “Harun Yahya”). He had been very effective in convincing people to ditch evolution. In 2017, Turkey removed evolution from the nation’s science classes entirely.

Beyond that, however, Oktar was also running a cult, surrounding himself with an army of virtually identical women and calling himself a feminist, a move that angered Islamic traditionalists. He said he had over 1,000 girlfriends because there was an “overflowing of love in my heart for women”… and also because he was “extraordinarily potent.”

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Over the years, he got into trouble with religious authorities for, among other things, selling alcohol and mixing belly dancers and religion on his TV show (the dancers were allegedly pressured against their will to appear).

In 2018, according to Turkish news sources, Oktar was finally arrested on charges ranging from “sexual abuse to military espionage.” And that was just the beginning:

According to the detention warrant, Oktar and his followers are accused of forming a criminal organization, sexual abuse of children, sexual assault, child kidnapping, sexual harassment, blackmailing, false imprisonment, political and military espionage, fraud by exploiting religious feelings, money laundering, violation of privacy, forgery of official documents, opposition to anti-terror law, coercion, use of violence, slander, alienating citizens from mandatory military service, insulting, false incrimination, perjury, aggravated fraud, smuggling, tax evasion, bribery, torture, illegal recording of personal data, violating the law on the protection of family and women, and violating a citizen’s rights to get education and participate in politics.

For a man who had run-ins with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan before, it was just a matter of time before he was convicted.

And now we know how that story ends:

On Wednesday [Nov. 16], judges had their final say on the fate of 215 defendants, including 72 in detention, dashing the hopes of Oktar who was confident that he would be released, according to his statements in earlier hearings. This time, Oktar was sentenced to 891 years in prison on charges of running a criminal organization, sexual abuse, denial of education rights, torture, abduction and illegal storage of personal data.

Oktar, in total, was sentenced to 8,658 years as the court reasoned that he should be sentenced for crimes committed by his disciples as the head of the cult.

It shouldn’t be ignored that one of Oktar’s “kittens” said she and other women were “repeatedly” sexually abused and forced to take birth control afterwards. Police found approximately 69,000 contraceptive pills when they raided his home.

Whatever you think about the length of his sentence, there seems to be no shortage of crimes linked to him. A punishment was long overdue. The cult leader and Creationist will now remain in prison for the rest of his life after leaving a legacy of hurting countless people, both physically and mentally.

(Large portions of this article were published earlier)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.