BUCHAREST, Romania –
A court in Romania’s capital agreed Tuesday to extend social media influencer Andrew Tate’s detention on suspicion of organized crime and human trafficking for another 30 days, an official said.
Tate, 36, a British-American citizen known for his gay views who has 5.1 million Twitter followers, was arrested on December 29 when authorities raided his property north of Bucharest. His brother Tristan and two Romanian women are also under arrest in the same case. None of the four have been formally charged.
Ramona Bolla, a spokeswoman for DIICOT, Romania’s organized crime agency, told The Associated Press that the Bucharest tribunal approved prosecutors’ request to hold Tates for another 30 days while the two women remain under house arrest.
It was the third 30-day extension since Tates’ arrest. The brothers also lost an appeal on February 1 against a judge’s decision to keep them behind bars while the investigation continues.
A document explaining the decision said the judge took into account “the particular dangerousness of the defendants” and “their ability to identify victims with increased vulnerability to seek better life opportunities.”
Eugene Vidyneak, one of the attorneys representing the Tate brothers, told reporters before Tuesday’s ruling that the defense team would argue for another extension, if one is granted. He argued that the defense had “effectively paralyzed the evidence” in the case so far, and that it was enough to keep Tates in custody.
Tate, who has reportedly been living in Romania since 2017, has previously been banned from various social media platforms for expressing homophobic views and hate speech. He has repeatedly claimed that Romanian prosecutors lacked evidence and claimed their case was a “political” attack designed to silence him.
Andrew Tate’s Twitter post before Tuesday’s decision expressed confidence in his lawyers and eventual release. The next tweet said: “I can easily find myself in euphoric gratitude for simple things like breathing air. I can easily think myself into the deepest and darkest depression. I’ve seen hell, I’ve lived hell. I can: produce any state.”
Romania’s organized crime agency said after the December arrests that it had identified six people-trafficking victims who had been subjected to “physical abuse and mental coercion” and sexually exploited by members of the alleged gang.
The agency says victims were lured out of love and later intimidated, put under surveillance and subjected to other control tactics while being coerced into engaging in pornographic activities for the gang’s financial gain.
In January, Romanian authorities descended on a compound near Bucharest linked to the Tate brothers and took away a fleet of luxury cars that included a Rolls-Royce, Ferrari and Porsche. They said they seized about $3.9 million in assets.
Prosecutors said that if they can prove that the owners of the cars obtained money through illegal activities such as human trafficking, those assets will be used to cover the costs of the investigation and to compensate the victims. Tate also unsuccessfully appealed the asset seizure.
McGrath contributed from Sighisoara, Romania.