Prosecutors have reportedly asked a Romanian court to extend the detention of controversial social media influencer Andrew Tate by 30 days as part of a human-trafficking and rape investigation.
The former kickboxer was initially held for 24 hours alongside his brother Tristan and two other suspects while his house was raided in the capital Bucharest on Thursday.
“Anti-organised crime prosecutors have notified the rights and liberties judge with the Bucharest Court with a proposal to remand the four suspects for 30 days,” the prosecutors said on Friday, according to the Reuters news agency.
“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.”
A lawyer for the brothers has reportedly confirmed their detention.
Violent sexual assault
Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) issued a statement, but did not name the Tates, saying two British citizens and two Romanians were suspected of being part of a criminal group focused on human trafficking.
According to the directorate, six injured people have been identified in relation to the investigation, one of whom is said to have been violently sexually assaulted in March.
Some of the suspects allegedly used the “loverboy” method of trafficking, which involves a man luring a victim into a relationship in order to sexually exploit them later, DIICOT said.
The victims were transported and housed in buildings in Ilfov county, which surrounds Bucharest, where they were coerced into making pornographic content, it is alleged.
DIICOT released a video of the raid showing guns, knives and money on display in one room.
A tweet was posted later on Friday on Tate’s Twitter account saying: “The Matrix sent their agents.”
The post was the latest in a series of “matrix” references made by Tate, apparently linked to the movie franchise which depicts a fictionalised world in which humanity is trapped in a simulated reality.
The concept of the films has been co-opted by far-right conspiracy theorists and men’s rights groups in recent years.
Since retiring from combat sports, Tate, 36, has received attention for his misogynistic comments on social media.
In 2016, he was removed from Britain’s version of the Big Brother TV show over a video that appeared to show him hitting a woman with a belt.
The following year, he was banned from Twitter for saying women should “bear responsibility” for being sexually assaulted, but was reinstated last month.
Earlier in the week, Tate sparked a war of words with climate activist Greta Thunberg when he shared a picture of himself standing next to a Bugatti and claimed he owned 33 cars.
“Please provide your email address so I can send a complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions,” he tweeted, tagging Ms Thunberg.
She replied: “Yes, please do enlighten me. email me at [email protected]”
In the video, Tate said: “I’m not actually mad at Greta because she doesn’t realise she’s been programmed, she doesn’t realise she’s a slave of the matrix, she thinks she’s doing good.”
Tate and his brother have been under investigation since April alongside two Romanian nationals.
Footage circulated widely on social media on Thursday appeared to show Tate and his brother being led away from a luxury villa.
He moved to Romania five years ago.