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Andrew Tate arrested and charged with human trafficking

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Andrew Tate – the former kickboxing champion, internet personality and self-described misogynist – has been arrested in Romania along with his brother, Tristan, and charged with human trafficking and forming an organized crime ring.

A Romanian organized crime unit is seeking authorization from a judge to arrest Tate, his brother and two Romanian suspects for up to 30 days. A warrant on Thursday on the four suspects was valid for up to 24 hours. One was also accused of rape, but the spokesman declined to identify that person, citing local laws.

The Tate brothers were expected to be physically present at the Bucharest court. Prosecutors are trying to send the suspects to trial, where, if convicted, they could face years in prison.

“No matter what the judge decides [on the longer detention]we will take further steps to investigate this crime,” Ramona Bolla, a spokeswoman for the Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism, or DIICOT, said in a telephone interview.

Romanian prosecutors said in a statement on Thursday that they had identified six people who they allege were recruited and then sexually abused in Ilfov County, which includes the capital Bucharest.

Authorities allege that the victims were coerced into participating in pornography for distribution on social media and that one of the suspects raped a victim twice in March. The statement, which did not name the Tate brothers or specify which suspect was charged with the rape, alleges the victims faced “acts of physical violence and mental coercion”.

Andrew Tate, who was born in the United States and is also a British citizen, has previously said that he lives in Romania. Bolla confirmed the Tates were in the country legally and said the investigation began in April after the US Embassy called Romanian authorities with information that a US citizen was being involuntarily held in a house in Ilfov. The embassy in Bucharest did not immediately respond to inquiries by The Washington Post on Friday.

Police said the four suspects organized a group in early 2021, conspiring to commit human trafficking, not only in Romania but also in the United States and Britain. Conviction in Romania on human trafficking charges can carry sentences of between three and 10 years. For rape, penalties can vary between five and 10 years.

Police previously reported a search of two properties in April in Ilfov County, in which they said they seized property related to the case. The Tates’ arrest came after police executed five house search warrants, police said. The alleged American victim is no longer in the country, Bolla said. The other five alleged victims were Romanian and Moldovan.

A spokesman for the brothers declined to comment on whether they were detained. “Andrew and Tristan Tate have the utmost respect for the Romanian authorities and will always help and assist in any way they can,” the spokesperson said. Tate’s talent agent said in an email that the human trafficking allegations were “a hoax orchestrated by headquarters”. A lawyer for the Tates could not immediately be identified.

A tweet on Andrew Tate’s Twitter account on Friday said: “The Matrix has sent its agents.”

Photographs showed Tate escorted in handcuffs by masked police near the DIICOT headquarters on Thursday.

In a since-deleted YouTube video that has been reposted on Reddit, Tate said “40 percent” of the reason he moved to the country was that he believed sexual assault cases were less likely to be investigated there.

Tate was banned from several social media sites – including TikTok, Facebook and Instagram – after posting misogynistic comments. Tate’s Twitter account was re-established following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company. Tate tweeted that people who are raped “have some responsibility” and argued that women are the property of their husbands. Fans of his refer to him as the “king of toxic masculinity”.

In 2016, he was kicked off the UK version of the reality show “Big Brother” after a video surfaced that appeared to show him hitting a woman with a belt. (Tate reportedly said it was consensual.)

His arrest comes shortly after he tweeted to climate activist Greta Thunberg bragging about his 33 cars and “huge emissions”. Thunberg told him to have a life.

During Thursday night, speculation arose that Romanian authorities were able to locate Tate after he posted a video in response to Thunberg containing a box of pizza from a local point that revealed his location. Bolla denied that this influenced the detention or its timing. “It was hard work putting all the evidence together” in the months-long investigation, Bolla said.

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