Controversial internet personality Andrew Tate and his brother were ordered to be detained for a month on Friday as prosecutors pursued claims of human trafficking and rape.
Authorities in Romania said police served search warrants on Thursday at five homes and took four suspects into custody – two Britons and two Romanians – as part of the investigation.
Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) said the four suspects had been detained for an initial 24 hours. A Bucharest court accepted an application by DIICOT to hold Tate and his brother Tristan in custody for a further 30 days, their lawyer Eugen Vidineac said on Friday.
Speaking to journalists outside the court, Vidineac said the decision would be appealed. “From our perspective, there are no grounds for taking the most drastic preventive measures provided by the criminal procedure code,” he added, according to Reuters.
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DIICOT alleged that the four suspects formed an organized criminal group that stretched from Romania to Britain and the United States, for the purpose of committing the crime of human trafficking.
The authorities allege that two of the suspects misled the victims “into believing that they intended to enter into a marriage/cohabitation relationship” while transporting victims to Romania and later sexually exploiting them with physical violence and coercion.
Authorities also said one of the suspects raped a victim on two separate occasions in March 2022. At least six victims were allegedly “sexually exploited by the organized criminal group,” the DIICOT statement said.
On Thursday, DIICOT released an edited, grainy, sometimes out-of-focus video purportedly showing the raids. A man can be seen being patted down by police. It’s unclear who is being detained in the video.
In a separate video aired by CNN affiliate Antena 3, officers from the crime agency can be seen escorting Andrew and Tristan Tate into police vehicles.
On Friday, Andrew Tate tweeted from his verified account, “The Matrix sent their agents.”
Andrew Tate, a former professional kickboxer, is known for his viral rants online about male dominance, female submission and wealth. He openly advocates violence against women, and had previously been banned from every major social media platform until Elon Musk reinstated his Twitter account after taking over the company.
He rose in prominence earlier this year, with many adults including school teachers voicing alarm about his misogynistic ideas taking root in the minds of countless young boys. Before it was taken down, his TikTok account racked up about 11.6 billion views.
He made headlines this week for a Twitter interaction with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who told Tate to get a life after he tweeted about his numerous cars “and their respective enormous emissions.”
There was speculation online that authorities were alerted to Tate’s presence in Romania by the appearance of a particular pizza box in one of the photos he posted in his spat with Thunberg.
But, according to Reuters, a spokesperson for DIICOT said the pizza boxes did not play a role in the detentions.
CNN’s Irene Nasser and Lauren Kent contributed to this report.