BUCHAREST, Romania — Andrew Tate, a divisive social media personality and former professional kickboxer, was detained in Romania on charges of human trafficking and rape, an official said Friday.
Tate, a British-U.S. citizen who previously was banned from various social media platforms for expressing misogynistic views and hate speech, was detained late Thursday for 24 hours along with his brother Tristan in the Ilfov area north of Romania’s capital, Bucharest.
Ramona Bolla, a spokesperson from Romania’s anti-organized crime agency, DIICOT, confirmed their arrest in a phone call with The Associated Press on Friday, and said prosecutors have asked a judge at the Bucharest tribunal to extend the arrest warrant to 30 days. She said a decision is expected later Friday.
DIICOT said in a statement late Thursday that the four suspects in the case, which include two British citizens and two Romanians, were arrested on charges of being part of an organized crime group, human trafficking and rape.
The agency said the British citizens recruited women who were subjected to “acts of physical violence and mental coercion,” sexually exploited by group members and forced to perform pornographic acts intended to reap “important financial benefits.”
The statement didn’t name the Tate brothers. Photographs published by Romanian media outlets appeared to show Tate being led away in handcuffs by masked law enforcement officers.
DIICOT said it identified six people who were sexually exploited by the organized criminal group, and that five homes were raided on Thursday.
On Friday, Andrew Tate, who is known to express 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 of Romania, the Eastern European country where he is reported to have lived for the last five years.
Tate also was embroiled this week in a war of words with 19-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg after he tweeted a picture of himself standing next to a Bugatti and bragged that he owned 33 cars.
Police said that 11 luxury cars were discovered in the raids that were owned or used by the suspects.
Video footage from the police raid accompanying the anti-organized crime agency’s statement shows several blurred-out sports cars, wads of cash and a handgun.
Bolla, from DIICOT, refuted widespread claims in the media that an address brandished on a pizza box that featured in a video posted by Andrew Tate on Twitter earlier this week led authorities to his arrest. She said the claims are “funny, but no.”