BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) – Andrew Tate, a divisive social media personality and former professional kickboxer, has been arrested in Romania on human trafficking and rape charges, an official said on Friday.
Tate, a British-American national who had previously been banned from various social media platforms for expressing misogynist views and hate speech, was arrested for 24 hours late Thursday along with his brother Tristan in the Ilfov area, north of Romania’s capital Bucharest.
Ramona Bolla, a spokeswoman for Romania’s anti-organized crime agency DIICOT, confirmed her arrest in a phone call to The Associated Press on Friday and said prosecutors asked a judge at the Bucharest tribunal to extend the arrest warrant to 30 days. She said a decision is expected later on Friday.
DIICOT said in a statement late Thursday that the four suspects in the case, including two British nationals and two Romanians, were arrested on charges of being part of an organized criminal group, human trafficking and rape.
The agency said the UK Citizens recruited women who had been subjected to “acts of physical violence and psychological coercion”, sexually exploited by group members and coerced into acts of pornography in order to gain “important financial benefits”.
The statement did not name the Tate brothers. Photos released by Romanian media appeared to show Tate being taken away in handcuffs by masked police officers.
DIICOT said it had identified six people who had been sexually exploited by the organized crime group and that five homes were searched on Thursday.
On Friday, Andrew Tate, known for voicing various conspiratorial views, tweeted that “The Matrix sent their agents” without elaborating.
Earlier this week, Tate posted a video on Twitter of a mountainous region in Romania, the eastern European country where he is said to have lived for the past five years.
Tate was also locked in a war of words with 19-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg this week after he tweeted a picture of himself standing next to a Bugatti and boasting about owning 33 cars.
Police said the raids uncovered 11 luxury cars owned or used by the suspects.
Video footage from the police raid, which accompanies the Anti-Organized Crime Agency’s statement, shows several blurred sports cars, wads of money and a pistol.
DIICOT’s Bolla has dismissed widespread media claims that an address on a pizza box featured in a video posted by Andrew Tate on Twitter earlier this week led authorities to his arrest. She said the claims were “funny, but no.”