BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Andrew Tate, the divisive social media personality and former professional kickboxer who is charged in Romania with rape, human trafficking, and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women, lost an appeal on Thursday against a court’s earlier decision to keep him under house arrest, his spokesperson said.
The Bucharest Court of Appeal ruled against Tate’s appeal, which challenged a court’s June 23 decision to extend the house arrest measure for 30 more days as the criminal case continues.
That decision was made days after Romania’s anti-organized crime agency, DIICOT, formally indicted the 36-year-old social media star along with his brother Tristan, and two Romanian women in the same case. All four were initially arrested near Romania’s capital in late December, and have denied the allegations against them.
Before the appeal court’s final ruling on Thursday, two judges had disagreed on whether or not to uphold the house arrest measure, so a third judge was brought in to preside over the ruling.
The Tate brothers’ spokesperson, Mateea Petrescu, said the judges’ initial decision wasn’t unanimous and that offered hope even though they lost the appeal, because for the first time since their arrest, “a judge has ruled that the brothers should be allowed to move freely in Romania, without restrictions.”
“We consider this to be a great step toward the rightful exoneration of Andrew and Tristan,” she said, adding that although the brothers “have suffered important damages to their reputation, they remain optimistic and continue to put their faith in the Romanian justice system.”
In June, DIICOT had requested that judges extend the house arrest measure after the agency filed its investigation. Under Romanian law, judges have 60 days to decide whether the case is sent to trial, but it often takes longer.
Tate, who has been accused of peddling conspiracy theories online and has amassed 7 million Twitter followers, has repeatedly claimed that prosecutors have no evidence against him and that there is a political conspiracy designed to silence his views.
“Very strange that one judge can think the file is garbage and should be dismissed,” read a post on Andrew Tate’s Twitter account after the court’s decision, “and another can believe your liberty should remain permanently deprived. Based on the same file? I’ll let you speculate … I haven’t been outside in 7 months.”
The Tate brothers, who are dual U.K.-U.S. citizens, won an appeal on March 31 to be moved to house arrest after spending three months in police detention.
DIICOT alleges that the four defendants formed a criminal group in 2021 “in order to commit the crime of human trafficking” in Romania, as well as in the United States and Britain.
There are seven female victims in the case, DIICOT said, who were lured with false pretenses of love and transported to Romania, where the gang sexually exploited and subjected them to physical violence. One defendant is accused of raping a woman twice in March 2022, according to the agency. The women were allegedly controlled by “intimidation, constant surveillance” and claims they were in debt, prosecutors said.
Andrew Tate was previously banned from several prominent social media platforms for expressing hate speech and misogynistic comments, including that women should bear responsibility for getting sexually assaulted.
Several women in Britain also are pursuing civil claims to obtain damages from Tate, alleging they were victims of sexual violence.
During their investigations, prosecutors have ordered the confiscation of the Tate brothers’ assets, including 15 luxury cars, luxury watches and about $3 million in cryptocurrency.
Stephen McGrath reported from Sighisoara.