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Romanian prosecutors search devices in Andrew Tate case

 

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romanian prosecutors on Wednesday conducted a forensic search of mobile phones and laptops looking for more evidence in the case of social media activist Andrew Tate, who was detained in the country on suspicion of organized crime and trafficking, an official said.

Tate, 36, a British and US citizen with nearly 5 million Twitter followers, was initially detained in late December in the Romanian capital Bucharest along with his brother Tristan and two Romanian women.

Both Tates appeared on Wednesday in handcuffs as law enforcement officials escorted them from a police van to the office of DIICOT, the Romanian Organized Crime and Terrorism Investigation Department, in Bucharest.

Ramona Bolla, a spokesperson for DIICOT, confirmed to The Associated Press that a forensic examination of the digital devices is being conducted on Wednesday to obtain further evidence in the case.

When asked by a journalist when he arrived at the DIICOT office, Andrew Tate said that “the case is completely empty” and that “there is no justice in Romania.” His brother Tristan could also be heard saying “…for my money, that’s why I’m in jail, I have money they were going to steal.”

Both Tates will remain in custody until the end of February after a judge on Friday granted prosecutors a second extension of their detention by 30 days. It’s unclear if the Tates appealed Friday’s decision.

Andrew Tate, a former professional kickboxer who has been reportedly living in Romania since 2017, was previously banned from various prominent social media platforms for expressing misogynistic views and inciting hatred.

After Tates and the two women were arrested in December, DIICOT said in a statement that it identified six trafficking victims who were subjected to “acts of physical abuse and mental coercion” and sexually exploited by members of an alleged criminal group.

The agency said the victims were seduced with the pretense of love and then intimidated, kept under surveillance and subjected to other control tactics into engaging in pornographic activities for significant financial gain.

Late Tuesday evening, Andrew Tate’s Twitter account posted a post that read: “My case is a political operation to reduce my influence. Throughout history, unjust imprisonment has been used to silence people. The game hasn’t changed.”

Earlier in January, Romanian authorities arrived at a site near Bucharest, where they towed a fleet of luxury cars, including blue Rolls-Royces, Ferraris and Porsches. They reported seizing about $3.9 million in assets.

Prosecutors said if they can prove that the owners obtained the money through illegal activities such as human trafficking, the assets will be used to cover the costs of the investigation and compensate the victims. Tate also unsuccessfully appealed the forfeiture of the assets.

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