>> Monday, June 9, 2008
By Thomas Grove
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - 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 groups.
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.