BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Andrew Tate, the divisive social media influencer and former professional kickboxer who is detained in Romania on suspicion of organized crime and human trafficking, arrived Monday at an appeals court in the capital Bucharest to challenge a decision last week to extend for a third time his detention by 30 days.
Tate, 36, a British-U.S. citizen known for misogynistic views who has 5.2 million Twitter followers, arrived at the Bucharest Court of Appeal handcuffed to his brother Tristan, who is held in the same case. Two Romanian women in the case are also under house arrest.
The Tates, who were initially detained in Bucharest in late December, will look to overturn a judge’s Feb. 21 decision to extend their detention by 30 days for a third time at the request of prosecutors. If the court rules against them Monday, they will remain in custody until at least late March.
The brothers have already lost two previous appeals against prior 30-day extensions that have kept them behind bars while investigations continued. None of the four has yet been formally charged.
A document explaining an earlier decision to keep them in jail said the judge took into account the “particular dangerousness of the defendants” and their capacity to identify victims “with an increased vulnerability, in search of better life opportunities.”
Tate, who has lived 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.
Romania’s anti-organized crime agency said in a statement after the December arrests 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 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.
In January, Romanian authorities descended on a compound near Bucharest linked with the Tate brothers and towed away a fleet of luxury cars that included a 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 cars’ 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.
Stephen McGrath reported from Sighisoara.