By NICOLAE DUMITRACHE AND STEPHEN McGRATH Associated Press
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A judge in Romania granted a request to extend by another 30 days the arrest of Andrew Tate, the social media personality who was detained in the country on charges of being part of an organized crime group, human trafficking and rape, an official said Friday.
Tate, 36, a British-U.S. citizen who has 4.7 million followers on Twitter, was initially detained on Dec. 29, in Bucharest, Romania’s capital. His brother, Tristan, and two Romanian women were arrested and held in the same case.
Ramona Bolla, a spokesperson for Romania’s anti-organized crime agency, DIICOT, told The Associated Press that prosecutors requested the second 30-day extension Thursday to keep all four in detention while the investigation continued. A judge approved the request Friday, she said.
The judge’s decision came after all four lost an appeal last week in a Bucharest court that upheld a judge’s Dec. 30 ruling to extend their arrests from 24 hours to 30 days.
The Tates are likely to appeal Friday’s extension.
A post on Andrew Tate’s Twitter account Thursday read: “I’m in detention as they ‘look’ for evidence. Evidence they will never find because we are not guilty. They have and will continue to ignore and throw away any and all testimony or hard evidence (that) we are innocent.”
“My case isn’t about the truth. This is about Politics,” the post read.
Tate, a former professional kickboxer who has reportedly lived in Romania since 2017, was previously banned from various prominent social media platforms for expressing misogynistic views and hate speech.
Romanian authorities descended on a compound near Bucharest last week and towed away a fleet of luxury cars that included a blue Rolls-Royce, a Ferrari and a Porsche. They reported seizing assets worth an estimated $3.9 million.
Prosecutors have said that if they can prove the owners gained money through illicit activities such as human trafficking, the assets would be used to cover the expenses of the investigation and to compensate victims. Tate also unsuccessfully appealed the asset seizure.
After the Tates and the two women were arrested in December, DIICOT said in a statement that it had identified six victims in the human trafficking case who were subjected to “acts of physical violence and mental coercion” and were sexually exploited by the members of the alleged crime group.
The agency said victims were lured with pretenses of love, and later intimidated, kept under surveillance and subjected to other control tactics while being coerced into engaging in recorded pornographic acts.
McGrath contributed from Sighisoara, Romania.