A Romanian court on Friday ordered the 30-day-detention of controversial influencer Andrew Tate following his arrest for alleged human trafficking, rape and forming a criminal group.
Ramona Bolla, a spokeswoman for Romania's anti-organised crime and terrorism directorate (DIICOT), told AFP Friday that four suspects had been placed in pre-trial detention for 30 days following their arrest late Thursday.
They are former professional kickboxer Tate, who is a British-US national, his brother Tristan and two Romanian citizens.
Tate and his brother were initially detained for 24 hours, but prosecutors had asked a Bucharest court to extend the detention of all four suspects as part of their ongoing investigation.
Since the beginning of 2021, the prosecution has been investigating the suspects and had already searched Tate's villa in April.
The four suspects allegedly recruited and exploited women by coercing them into "forced labour... and pornographic acts with a view to producing and disseminating such material" online to "obtain substantial financial benefits".
Six potential victims have so far been identified.
Romanian police raided five locations across the country as part of their investigation.
- Twitter buzz -
The move came just days after Tate had a heated Twitter exchange with Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg, which internet users have speculated helped Romanian police to locate and arrest him.
Viral Twitter exchanges between Tate and Thunberg this week on subjects ranging from cars with "enormous emissions" to pizza boxes, fuelled speculation on social media.
Some internet users argued that the brand of pizza featured in a video posted by Tate in his angry exchanges with Thunberg had helped police confirm Tate’s presence in Romania.
"This is what happens when you don't recycle your pizza boxes," Thunberg quipped on twitter following Tate's arrest.
But DIICOT spokeswoman Bolla told AFP earlier Friday that "it's not related".
"To determine whether a person is in the country or not, we use a whole range of means", she said, stressing that "arrest warrants and searches" had already been in place.
Greta Thunberg's spokesperson confirmed to AFP that her tweet this morning -- which has so far garnered about 2.4 million likes -- was in fact a "joke".
The Romanian authorities "have not been in touch with her", the spokesperson added.
Tate appeared on the Big Brother television show in 2016, but was removed after a video emerged showing him attacking a woman.
He moved to Romania several years ago with his brother.
Tate has been banned from many social media platforms for misogynistic remarks and hate speech, but was allowed back on Twitter after Elon Musk bought the company.