Professional kickboxer and online celebrity Andrew Tate, his brother Tristan, and two others have been detained by Romanian authorities on charges of human trafficking and rape.
A court agreed to detain 36-year-old Tate and his brother in Bucharest for 30 days as prosecutors continue their investigation into the group. The two brothers have denied the allegations and said they plan to appeal the detention, Reuters reported.
Romanian authorities announced the charges in a Thursday statement, though they didn’t identify Tate by name.
“The four suspects … appear to have created an organised crime group with the purpose of recruiting, housing and exploiting women by forcing them to create pornographic content meant to be seen on specialised websites for a cost,” prosecutors said, according to the Reuters report.
Tate allegedly detailed this in a now-archived page from his website, in which he described how he gained most of his wealth.
According to NBC News, Tate described running a “webcam studio” in Romania and said that his job was to “meet a girl, go on a few dates, sleep with her, test if she’s quality, get her to fall in love with me to where she’d do anything I say, and then get her on webcam so we could become rich together.”
Authorities said that they have been in contact with six women who were allegedly victimized by the group.
“We are not at a stage where guilt or innocence is proven, for now we only discuss preventive measures,” said Tates’ lawyer, Eugen Vidineac, according to the BBC.
It is not yet known whether Tate has posted bail, but his Twitter account has been active.
“The Matrix sent their agents,” Tate said in an ominous message after his arrest, adding later, “The Matrix will only tell you what the Matrix needs you to believe.”
The Matrix sent their agents.
— Andrew Tate (@Cobratate) December 30, 2022
Not long afterward, Elon Musk posted a Matrix-related meme – which Tate, or someone running his account, retweeted.
“The Matrix” refers to a series of science fiction films depicting “a simulated reality created by sentient machines in order to pacify and subdue the human population while their bodies’ heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source,” according to NewWorldAI.
Tate also makes reference to The Matrix as “the work /consume/ die cycle” from which he encourages people to escape by becoming his student to learn “the secrets to wealth creation.”
Officials said the Tate brothers had been under investigation since April, NBC reported.
In an August interview, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson asked Tate about rumors that he had been arrested for human trafficking, but Tate denied that and said he had been a victim of “swatting,” where pranksters call police to a home with bogus reports of violence, according to the Associated Press.
Tate, who announced in October that he had converted to the Muslim faith, is primarily known for commenting on a variety of topics related to masculinity.
His remarks, however, are often criticized for being extreme and misogynistic, such as when he said most men prefer younger girls because they’re easier to “imprint,” as well as saying that women who have put themselves in a dangerous situation need to “take some degree of personal responsibility” for being raped.
His controversial comments have led him to be banned from most social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
He had also been banned from Twitter, but his account was restored in November by Elon Musk. He currently has around 4 million followers on Twitter and millions more elsewhere.
NBC reported that videos of Tate on TikTok have been viewed more than 12 billion times as of August.
Tate is often seen smoking a cigar or showing off his car collection, worth an estimated $6 million as of June, according to The Sun.
Tate’s arrest came shortly after he got into a dispute with climate activist Greta Thunberg.
In a Tuesday tweet addressed to Thunberg, Tate asked for her email so he could “send a complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions.”
WARNING: The following conversation contains language which some may find offensive.
I have 33 cars.
My Bugatti has a w16 8.0L quad turbo.
My TWO Ferrari 812 competizione have 6.5L v12s.
This is just the start.
Please provide your email address so I can send a complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions. pic.twitter.com/ehhOBDQyYU
— Andrew Tate (@Cobratate) December 27, 2022
Thunberg tweeted in response, “Yes, please do enlighten me. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Her reply drew an enormous amount of attention, and according to Newsweek, it has become the sixth most-liked tweet of all time.
Tate shot back by sharing a video of himself smoking a cigar and eating a pizza from a local Romanian restaurant.
Many claimed that the pizza box, which reportedly contained a QR code directly linked to the restaurant, was used by Romanian police to track down Tate, who was allegedly in hiding.
However, Romanian officials debunked this and said that, while it was a “funny” theory, it was not true, NBC reported.
Thunberg said after Tate’s arrest: “This is what happens when you don’t recycle your pizza boxes.”
this is what happens when you don’t recycle your pizza boxes
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) December 30, 2022
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