February 3, 2023

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Andrew Tate is arrested in Romania in a human trafficking investigation

Andrew Tate, a former professional kickboxer and online personality who frequently made misogynistic comments about women to his large following on social media sites, was arrested Thursday by Romanian authorities as part of an investigation into human trafficking and rape, police said.

Prosecutors at Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism said in a statement Thursday that two Britons and two Romanians were being detained for 24 hours as part of the investigation. The statement did not name Mr Tate, but police in Romania confirmed on Friday that he and his brother Tristan, who are both British and American citizens, were among those arrested. According to Mr Tate’s website, the brothers live in Romania.

Prosecutors said local authorities conducted searches of homes they believed were linked to human trafficking and rape. Authorities said they would investigate whether the suspects formed a criminal group to traffic people in Romania, the United States and Britain in 2021.

Six victims who were allegedly forced into sexual acts were housed in buildings outside Bucharest, according to prosecutors. On two separate occasions in March, one of the suspects used force and psychological pressure to rape a victim, prosecutors said.

Mr Tate, who is in his 30s, rose to prominence in 2016 after appearing on the UK version of reality TV show Big Brother. He has continued to expand his online presence, frequently making hateful comments, including that raped women are partly to blame for the attacks.

Mr Tate drew renewed attention this week after he got into a fight with 19-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter, boasting about his collection of exotic cars and their “enormous emissions” and asking for her email address. Ms Thunberg responded with an address ending in “@getalife.com”.

Online speculation has focused on whether a prominent pizza box in one of Mr Tate’s tweets to Ms Thunberg had helped lead authorities to him, but Ramona Bolla, a spokeswoman for the Organized Crime and Terrorism Investigation Directorate, said told The New York Times on Friday that this was not the case.

It was unclear if Mr Tate and the other suspects would be charged or if they were still being held. But prosecutors asked a court in Bucharest to extend Mr Tate’s detention by 30 days, Reuters reported.

Mr Tate did not respond to a request for comment but did on Friday morning he tweeted“The Matrix has sent its agents.”

Lawyers for Mr Tate, his brother and the two other detainees, who authorities did not identify, could not be reached.

In August, Mr. Tate was banned from Facebook, YouTube and TikTok, all citing violations of their policies. He was also briefly banned from Twitter but reinstated on the platform where he has 3.7 million followersafter Elon Musk bought the company in October.

Stefania Matache contributed reporting from Bucharest, Romania.