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A still from Tate's most recent Twitter video. Twitter/@Cobratate

Romanian court orders 30-day detention of Andrew Tate over allegations of human trafficking

Tate and his brother Tristan were arrested yesterday.

LAST UPDATE | 30 Dec 2022

A ROMANIAN COURT has ordered the 30-day detention of former professional kickboxer and controversial influencer Andrew Tate following his arrest for alleged human trafficking, rape and forming a criminal group.

Ramona Bolla, a spokeswoman for Romania’s anti-organised crime and terrorism directorate (DIICOT), told AFP that four suspects – British-US national Tate, his brother and two Romanian citizens – had been placed in pre-trial detention for 30 days following their arrest late Thursday.

The controversial online figure had earlier appeared in court along with a number of others in Romania for alleged human trafficking, rape and setting up an organised criminal group, prosecutors said.

It comes days after Tate had a heated Twitter exchange with Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg which internet users speculated helped Romanian police to locate and arrest him.

British citizen Tate and his brother Tristan were detained for an initial “24 hours”, but the court later agreed to the prosecutors’ request for the 30-day pre-trial detention.

In a statement dated Thursday, prosecutors from DIICOT said: “At the beginning of 2021, [the] four suspects formed an organised criminal group with a view to committing the crime of human trafficking on the territory of Romania, but also other countries.”

A video of the search of the home has been released by authorities.

Viral Twitter exchanges between Tate and Thunberg this week on subjects ranging from cars with “enormous emissions” to pizza boxes, fuelled speculation on social media that the arrests followed Tate’s spats with the Swedish activist.

Internet users speculated that the brand of pizza featured in a video posted by Tate in his angry exchanges with Thunberg helped police confirm Tate’s presence in Romania.

Thunberg quipped on Twitter that “this is what happens when you don’t recycle your pizza boxes”.

“It’s not related,” spokeswoman Bolla told AFP.

“To determine whether a person is in the country or not, we use a whole range of means”, she added, stressing that “arrest warrants and searches” had already been in place.

Greta Thunberg’s spokesperson confirmed to AFP that her tweet this morning, which garnered about 1.6 million likes so far, was in fact a “joke”, adding that the Romanian authorities “have not been in touch with her.”

Since the beginning of 2021, the prosecution has been investigating the suspects and had already searched Tate’s villa in April.

According to the DIICOT statement, the influencer, his brother and two Romanian citizens are suspected of “organised crimes”, “rape” and “human trafficking” in several countries.

So far six potential victims have been identified.

The suspects recruited and exploited women by coercing them into “forced labour… and pornographic acts with a view to producing and disseminating such material” online to “obtain substantial financial benefits”.

Five locations were raided across Romania as part of the investigation.

This morning, Tate tweeted: “The Matrix sent their agents.”

Luton-born British-American Andrew Tate appeared on the Big Brother television show in 2016, but was removed after a video emerged showing him attacking a woman.

Tate, who moved to Romania several years ago with Tristan, has been banned from many social media platforms for misogynistic remarks, but was allowed back on Twitter after Elon Musk bought the company.

According to Google Trends, searches for Andrew Tate peaked in August of this year, when mainstream media began covering the controversies around him and his social media presence. The Observer published an in-depth feature on Tate on 6 August, detailing how in July, there were more Google searches for his name than for Donald Trump or Kim Kardashian.

According to the publication, Tate’s “rapid surge to fame was not by chance. Evidence obtained by the Observer shows that followers of Tate are being told to flood social media with videos of him, choosing the most controversial clips in order to achieve maximum views and engagement.”

© AFP 2022