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Romania conducts raids in probe of influencer Andrew Tate

Influencer Andrew Tate says Romania case against him empty
Source: Video Screenshot

Romanian police raided more houses as part of their probe of controversial influencer Andrew Tate, who is being investigated for alleged human trafficking and rape, prosecutors said on Thursday.

The British-US citizen, his younger brother and two Romanian women are under investigation for allegedly coercing women into “forced labour… and pornographic acts” for “substantial financial benefits”.

Tate, 36, and his brother, 34, deny the accusations, according to their lawyer Eugen Vidineac. They are also being investigated for forming a criminal group.

Seven properties in Bucharest and its surrounding areas were being searched as part of the investigation, Romania’s anti-organised crime and terrorism directorate (DIICOT) said in a statement.

Tate, a former professional kickboxer, and the three others were arrested in December and ordered held for 30 days while investigations are ongoing.

DIICOT prosecutors already searched Tate’s villa in April, and Romanian police raided five locations across the country in late December.

The human trafficking network set up by the suspects had been operating since 2019, prosecutors said Thursday, adding that they had recruited “several victims, including minors… for the purpose of sexual exploitation”.

The potential victims were tricked by the Tate brothers, who feigned feelings for them, before being forced into prostitution and the production of pornographic films.

In order to attract potential customers, profiles were created on websites, prosecutors said.

Sixteen telephones and various computer equipment “intended for video chat activities” were also found in the places searched on Thursday.

The accused went so far as to rent apartments in Bucharest and in Constanta, on the shores of the Black Sea, prosecutors said.

– Trips abroad –

Investigators are also looking into several trips by the criminal group to countries such as France, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, during which the victims were also forced to engage in prostitution for the benefit of the suspects.

Since the end of December, many of the men’s assets, including their collection of luxury cars, had already been seized.

The Tate brothers appeared before a Romanian court on Tuesday to appeal their 30-day detention, but their request was rejected.

In 2016, Tate appeared on the “Big Brother” reality television show, but he was removed after a video emerged showing him attacking a woman.

He then turned to social media platforms to promote his divisive views, before being banned for misogynistic remarks and hate speech.

Tate was allowed back on Twitter after Elon Musk bought the company, and his handle “Cobratate” currently has 4.5 million followers.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.

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