The controversial online influencer and misogynist Andrew Tate has been detained in Romania on charges of human trafficking, rape and forming an organised crime group, authorities have confirmed.
The former kickboxer and reality TV star, who has been banned from a number of social media platforms for misogynistic comments and hate speech, was arrested alongside his brother and two other suspects.
They spent Thursday night in custody and could be held for up to 24 hours, prosecutors from Romania’s anti-organised crime unit said in a statement.
Authorities said they had searched five homes as part of the investigation, and released footage of one of the raids, showing riot police entering a luxurious residence. Footage of items seized at the location showed stacks of euro notes and a handgun.
In a statement, authorities said two British citizens and two Romanians were accused of forming a gang that recruited victims by “misrepresenting their intention to enter into a marriage/cohabitation relationship and the existence of genuine feelings of love”. Later, the victims were forced to perform pornography “through physical violence and mental coercion”.
Authorities said so far six victims had been identified. The statement also mentioned a separate allegation of rape dating to March this year, although it did not specify against which suspect the allegation was levelled.
The Tate brothers have been under criminal investigation in Romania since April, when police raided their mansion in Bucharest after the US embassy received a tip-off claiming that a 21-year-old American woman was being held there against her will. The Tate brothers were questioned and later released, but the investigation was expanded to cover rape and human trafficking allegations.
On Friday, Tate posted an apparent reference to his arrest on his recently reinstated Twitter account, writing: “The Matrix sent their agents,” using a term taken from the eponymous blockbuster – whose “red pill” trope has proven popular among misogynistic online groups – for a simulated world that controls humans.
Prior to the tweet, a spokesperson for Tate told the Daily Mirror he could not provide any details regarding the most recent reports. “However, Andrew and Tristan Tate have the utmost respect for the Romanian authorities and will always assist and help in any way they can.”
Tate, whose popularity has increased enormously over the past year, has been kicked off numerous social media platforms for posting hate speech and misogyny. Domestic abuse charities have characterised Tate’s views as extreme misogyny, with the potential of radicalising men to commit violence against women. In numerous videos, Tate gives graphic descriptions of violence against women.
Andrew Tate escorted by Romanian police officers after raid – video