Everything We Know About the Investigation Into Andrew Tate

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On December 29, Romanian authorities arrested Andrew Tate, a British American kickboxer turned far-right social-media personality who has spent recent years spewing misogynistic, hateful opinions to legions of followers, many of them teens. Tate and his brother Tristan were detained in Romania, where they live, in connection to a human-trafficking and rape investigation and will spend the next 30 days in prison while police continue their investigation. The brothers are suspected of coercing and kidnapping women to participate in their webcam business, which is not exactly shocking given this guy’s whole deal. A fan once called him the “king of toxic masculinity,” which is one way to describe a leather-jacket-wearing guy who, between sexist diatribes, posts photos of himself smoking cigars while posing next to luxury cars and enormous guns.

Between his arrest, a feud with Greta Thunberg, and news that authorities have seized his enormous car collection, it’s been an eventful few weeks for Tate. Let’s untangle this together.

First off: Who …?

Tate first entered the public eye in 2016, when he briefly appeared on the 17th season of the U.K.’s Big Brother after pivoting from a decidedly unremarkable kickboxing career. He was removed from the show mid-season — seven days in, to be exact — after a video surfaced on The Sun showing him beating a woman with a belt, followed by another one of him telling a woman (it’s not clear if it was the same one) to count the bruises he’d given her. Tate and, by some reports, the women in the videos, claimed both instances were consensual.

Since then, Tate has built a career spouting misogynistic, violent, and generally vile takes to an alarmingly large mob of followers. In October 2017, a month after theorizing in a Twitter thread that “depression isn’t real,” he offered a characteristically gross opinion on the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, writing on Twitter, “Women have been exchanging sex for opportunity for a very long time. Some did this. Weren’t abused.” He added, “If you put yourself in a position to be raped, you must bear some responsibility.”

At some point in 2017, Tate relocated to Romania, a move he later said was partially because it was easier to avoid rape charges in the country. “I’m not a fucking rapist,” he said in a YouTube video, “but I like the idea of just being able to do what I want.”

From Romania, Tate continued to spread his macho gospel, frequently circumventing a Twitter suspension by using multiple accounts while also posting on other platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. Clips of his videos are hugely popular on social media, where they circulate largely unchecked thanks to fans who flood the apps with reposts.

Any other notable comments?

Oh boy. Tate has described in detail how he would attack a woman with a machete if she accused him of cheating; claimed women “belong” to men and shouldn’t be allowed to drive; asserted that men can have multiple wives, but women having multiple husbands is “disgusting”; and expressed a preference for dating 18- and 19-year-olds because they’re more impressionable and have been through “less dick.” In a 2021 podcast episode, he said he is “absolutely sexist” and “absolutely a misogynist.”

Tate also considers himself a life coach. He’s amassed thousands of fans through his online course–slash–community forum, “Hustler’s University,” where, for $49 a month, you can learn “over 18 methods of making money,” per the group’s website. He has also been openly running a webcam business with his brother Tristan, which they told the Daily Mirror in March is actually a “total scam” that convinces men to hand over large amounts of money under the illusion that they’re helping the cam girls with personal debt.

Tate’s comments have earned him a spot among characters like Alex Jones, who welcomed Tate on his podcast; PizzaGate conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, who appeared on Tate’s podcast, Tate Speech, in July 2022; and anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson, whom Tate has described as a “solid guy” with a “good heart.”

And no one has stopped him?

Needless to say, plenty of activists and anti-hate-speech groups have called for Tate’s videos to be removed, especially given that a large chunk of his millions of followers seem to be teenage boys. Some of his most vocal opponents are educators, some of whom even published a guide helping other teachers and parents speak to kids about his hateful ideologies.

In August, amid a huge spike in his online popularity — driven partially by Hustler’s University members who were urged to repost Tate’s videos to earn money off of referrals —Tate was permanently banned from Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. In a “final message” posted to an unofficial YouTube account after his ban, Tate claimed that clips of his statements were taken out of context. He shuttered Hustler’s University shortly after.

Yet banning his official accounts was not particularly effective in stemming the spread of Tate’s misogynist, racist, and homophobic views. He continued to post videos from other, unofficial accounts, one of which Twitter even verified in January 2022. Meanwhile, his followers, many of them members of Hustler Nation, continue to circulate his clips. In November, his official Twitter account was reinstated as part of Elon Musk’s “free speech” push upon purchasing the company.

You mentioned legal troubles?

Now, Tate and his brother Tristan just so happen to be suspects in a lengthy Romanian investigation into human trafficking and rape. Months ago, in April of 2022, the Romania residence where the brothers live was raided by the country’s authorities, which local newspapers said was a police response to a report that an American woman was being held at the house against her will. The American woman was found, alongside a Romanian woman who was also there unwillingly, per local reports. Responding to a request from the Daily Beast, Tristan denied that any women were found in the house.

On December 29, Andrew Tate and his brother Tristan were arrested by Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), ostensibly in connection with the same case. Investigators suspect Tate and his brother are part of a group that forces women to work as cam girls through “physical violence and mental coercion (intimidation, constant surveillance, control and the invoking of alleged debts).” Prosecutors described what essentially amounts to a sex-trafficking ring, saying they believe the four suspects who were arrested “created an organized crime group with the purpose of recruiting, housing, and exploiting women by forcing them to create pornographic content meant to be seen on specialized websites for a cost.” Two women who allegedly helped him run the business, Luana Radu and Georgiana Naghel, were also detained.

One local report claims that authorities found six young women at the Tates’ residence, which was among the five buildings seized by authorities as part of the investigation. While an official statement from DIICOT did not name the Tates, it did confirm that four people had been detained and that the agency identified six people who authorities say were sexually exploited by this group. Photos and video taken of the raid show Tate being escorted into a police car, and reports claim that guns, swords, and stacks of cash were found at the compound.

In a statement following the arrest, the Tates’ lawyer told the BBC that his clients reject the allegations, adding, “We are not at a stage where guilt or innocence is proven.”

And where does Greta Thunberg factor into this?

Tate’s arrest happened to follow a Twitter spat he started with teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, which began on December 27 when he tagged her in a supremely douchey photo of him putting gas in his Bugatti. “I have 33 cars,” he wrote. “Please provide your email address so I can send a complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions.” Thunberg responded, telling him to “email me at smalldickenergy@getalife.com.” Zing! This prompted Tate to don his Versace robe, light up a cigar, and film a characteristically bizarre video calling Thunberg a “slave of the matrix.” (Tate is a big fan of using the matrix as a foil for his fringe worldview, making him one of the many right-wingers who’ve co-opted the franchise’s language.) At one point, he tells someone off-camera to bring a stack of pizza boxes into the frame before saying, “Make sure that these boxes are not recycled.”

For a beautiful, fleeting moment, it seemed like Tate’s arrest may have been facilitated by the appearance of the pizza box, which some journalists theorized helped authorities confirm his whereabouts. (It was apparently delivered from a local Romanian pizza chain.) This turned out to be too good to be true. In an admirably succinct statement, a spokesperson for the country’s anti–organized crime division called the pizza-box story “funny, but no.” That did not stop Thunberg from getting the last word: “This is what happens when you don’t recycle your pizza boxes,” she tweeted following Tate’s arrest.

What next?

In the wake of the arrest, more allegations have come out against Tate, including from one Romanian woman who says Tate tried to recruit her into his sex ring when she was 16. This week, Vice reported that two anonymous women claimed they were both abused by Tate in 2015 while working for his webcam business in England, and that U.K. prosecutors declined to move forward with their case. Tate denied their claims through his lawyer, claiming that “they wanted money because I fired them” and adding that “the police found messages from the girls’ phones where they were talking between themselves and planning to lie about me.” Both women say they were informed by prosecutors that voice notes they exchanged about whether to tell police Tate had given them alcohol had informed the decision not to bring charges. 

Tate is currently being detained for 30 days on a judge’s order while Romanian authorities continue their investigation, which, unluckily for him, involves seizing his enormous collection of luxury cars, reportedly worth 5 million euros. Also seized, per a statement from DIICOT: ten properties owned by companies registered to the brothers.

On January 10, Tate and his brother were pictured leaving court in Bucharest after their appeal to be released from custody was rejected. According to their lawyer’s argument, both brothers have children in Romania whom they need to take care of. Tate has historically been opaque about whether or not he has kids, bragging last year that he has “more children than 99.9 percent of the population of the western world. And they all adore me.” On Tuesday, he was photographed leaving court in handcuffs and holding what appears to be a copy of the Quran.

According to the Daily Mail, prosecutors told the court that they believe one of the Tate brothers raped a woman in March of last year, which is when their investigation began. Though the Tates’ lawyer claimed shortly after their arrest that prosecutors had no evidence of rape or human trafficking beyond the victims’ statements, one filing reportedly includes WhatsApp messages between Tate and an alleged victim forbidding her from leaving his compound unless escorted by one of his employees.

While he remains in prison, someone using Tate’s account has continued posting on Twitter, mostly about the case against him being a lie, about an ostensibly false claim that he was “attacked” while in custody, and, of course, about the Matrix.

This post has been updated.

Everything We Know About the Investigation Into Andrew Tate