BUCHAREST • Controversial influencer Andrew Tate and his brother were released on Friday after three months of detention in Romania and moved to house arrest while they are investigated for alleged human trafficking and rape.
Tate, a British-American former kickboxer with millions of online followers, along with his younger brother and two Romanian women, are under investigation for allegedly “forming an organised criminal group, human trafficking and rape”.
Tate, 36, and his brother Tristan, 34, were arrested in late December, and have been held in pre-trial detention ever since, which was again extended last week.
However, an appeals court “rejected the prosecution’s proposal to extend the pre-trial detention” and ordered the pair be placed “under house arrest”, according to a court ruling seen by AFP.
Accompanied by their Romanian lawyers, the brothers – who deny all charges against them — were released around midnight (2100 GMT) from the police central arrest premises in Bucharest amid chaotic scenes, an AFP journalist reported.
“Freedom at last,” a smiling Andrew Tate said said to whoops and hollers from supporters as he arrived at his house. “It’s a little bit emotional, I’ve been in one room since last year.”
He thanked the judges for the release and maintained that he was innocent of all charges against him.
Media thronged the entrance while young fans greeted Andrew Tate with cries of “Top G” (for gangster), his nickname.
Tristan said the judges had made “the right decision” and vowed to prove that he was “an innocent man.”
Their lawyer Eugean Vidineac said they were forbidden from contacting other people involved in the case and could not “leave their home without prior approval from judicial authorities.”
Earlier, he insisted the brothers were not a flight risk.
“There’s no reason for them to flee, because to be on the run is not a life worth living and the Tate brothers don’t want this life. They are just tired and want to rest,” he said.
Seized luxury cars
The two men moved to Romania several years ago, and Tristan has a baby son who was born since his arrest.
As part of the probe, Romanian police have raided several properties connected to the Tate brothers and seized many of their assets, including a collection of luxury cars.
A court document from January said that one woman was “recruited” from Britain after she fell in love with Andrew Tate, who then brought her to Romania “with the goal of sexual exploitation”.
The brothers, and the two Romanians also detained, allegedly trafficked, recruited and exploited women by coercing them into “pornographic acts with a view to producing and disseminating such material” online.
Flaunting his bulging muscles, cigars and fast cars, Tate’s videos posted on social media fascinate millions of teenage boys.
A video he posted of himself pacing in his living room after his release garnered millions of views in just hours.
Giving tips on how to be successful, along with misogynist and sometimes violent maxims, his videos has made him one of the world’s best-known influencers.
In 2016, Tate appeared on the “Big Brother” reality television show in Britain but 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, where he has 5.5 million followers, after the South African-born billionaire Elon Musk bought the company. – AFP