BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) - Andrew Tate, the divisive internet personality who has spent months in a Romanian jail on suspicion of organized crime and human trafficking, has won an appeal to replace his detention with house arrest, an official said Friday.
The Bucharest Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Tate's appeal, which challenged a judge's decision last week to extend his arrest a fourth time for 30 days, said Ramona Bolla, a spokesperson for Romania's anti-organized crime agency, DIICOT.
Tate, 36, a British-U.S. citizen who has 5.4 million Twitter followers, was initially detained in late December in Romania's capital Bucharest, along with his brother Tristan and two Romanian women.
All four won an appeal Friday, and will remain under house arrest until Apr. 29, Bolla said. None of the four has yet been formally indicted. The court ruled in favor of their immediate release. Prosecutors cannot challenge the appeal court's decision, which was final, Bolla added.
Tate, a professional kickboxer who has resided 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.
DIICOT said in a statement after the December arrests that it had identified six victims in the human trafficking case who were allegedly subjected to “acts of physical violence and mental coercion” and 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 unsuccessfully appealed the asset seizure.
Stephen McGrath reported from Sighisoara, Romania.