By STEPHEN McGRATH and VADIM GHIRDA Associated Press
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Andrew Tate, the divisive internet personality who is under house arrest in Romania on suspicion of organized crime and human trafficking, appeared at prosecutors’ offices on Monday for forensic searches of electronic equipment confiscated during investigations, his lawyer said.
Tate, 36, a British-U.S. citizen who has six million Twitter followers, was initially detained in late December in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, along with his brother Tristan and two Romanian women. None of the four has yet been formally indicted.
Both the Tates appeared on Monday at the Bucharest offices of Romania’s anti-organized crime agency, DIICOT, as forensic searches were carried out, said Eugen Vidineac, a lawyer representing them.
The brothers’ attendance on Monday comes after they won an appeal on March 31 to be moved from police custody to house arrest, where they will remain until at least April 29. Prosecutors have already carried out several device searches since they were detained.
As the Tates left the DIICOT offices on Monday, they were met outside by a scrum of media, and a handful of supporters who chanted “Top-G, Top-G!” — one of the monikers used by his fans.
Asked how he is feeling, Tristan Tate told reporters: “I’m always ok. I was ok in jail, I’m ok now.”
Vidineac told The Associated Press that prosecutors have seized “a lot of devices” in the case and that they’re “still looking for the information, even now.”
“Being under arrest, even home arrest, the searches (are) mandatory to be done in their presence,” he said. “The prosecutor is doing his job, we respect the job of the prosecutor, of the authorities, we let them do the investigation … and we await the results.”
Since his release from police detention, Andrew Tate’s Twitter followers have rocketed by at least 500,000. A tweet that appeared on his account Sunday read: “The world makes alot more sense once you understand that most people dont even want to be free.”
Tate, a professional kickboxer who has resided in Romania since 2017, was previously banned from various social media platforms for expressing misogynistic views and hate speech. He has repeatedly claimed Romanian prosecutors have no evidence and alleged their case is a political conspiracy designed to silence him.
DIICOT said in a statement after the December arrests that it had identified six victims in the human trafficking case who were allegedly subjected to “acts of physical violence and mental coercion” and sexually exploited by members of the alleged crime group.
The agency said victims were lured with pretenses of love and later intimidated, placed under surveillance and subjected to other control tactics while being coerced into engaging in pornographic acts for the financial gain of the crime group.
McGrath reported from Sighisoara, Romania.