BUCHAREST, Romania — The divisive social media personality Andrew Tate appeared in court in Romania’s capital Tuesday to appeal a judge’s decision to extend his arrest on charges of being part of an organized crime group, human trafficking and rape to 30 days.
Tate, 36, a British-U.S. citizen who has 4.4 million followers on Twitter, was initially detained on Dec. 29 for 24 hours along with his brother Tristan, who was charged in the same case. Two Romanian women also were taken into custody.
All four immediately challenged the arrest extension that a judge granted to prosecutors on Dec. 30. A document explaining the judge’s reasoning said “the possibility of them evading investigations cannot be ignored,” and that they could “leave Romania and settle in countries that do not allow extradition.”
Tate arrived at Bucharest’s Court of Appeal in handcuffs. Eugen Vidineac, a Romanian defense lawyer representing Tate, told journalists after a morning hearing that “all four of the accused have made statements” and that “the lawyers’ pleas were listened to entirely.”
“The court has to decide. We hope for a positive solution for our clients,” Vidineac said.
A decision on the appeal was expected later Tuesday, Vidineac told The Associated Press.
Romania’s anti-organized crime agency DIICOT said after the late December raids that it had identified six victims in the case who were subjected by the group to “acts of physical violence and mental coercion” and were sexually exploited by group members.
The agency said victims were lured by pretenses of love, and later intimidated, surveilled, and subjected to other control tactics into performing pornographic acts intended to reap substantial financial gains.
Prosecutors investigating the case have so far seized a total of 15 luxury cars — at least seven of which are owned by the Tate brothers — and more than 10 properties or land owned by companies registered to them, said Ramona Bolla, a spokesperson for DIICOT.
Bolla said that if prosecutors can prove they gained money through human trafficking, the property “will be taken by the state and (will) cover the expenses of the investigation and damages to the victims.”
If the court rules to uphold the arrest warrant extension on Tuesday prosecutors could request detention for a maximum of 180 days. If the court overturns the extension, the defendants could be put under house arrest or similar conditions such as being banned from leaving Romania.
Since Tate’s arrest, a series of ambiguous posts have appeared on his Twitter account, each of which garners widespread media attention.
One, posted on Sunday and accompanied by a local report suggesting he or his brother have required medical care since their detention, reads: “The Matrix has attacked me. But they misunderstand, you cannot kill an idea. Hard to Kill.”
Another post, that appeared Saturday, reads: “Going to jail when guilty of a crime is the life story of a criminal … going to jail when completely innocent is the story of a hero.”
Tate, who is reported to have lived in Romania since 2017, has previously been banned from various prominent social media platforms for expressing misogynistic views and hate speech.