Andrew Tate, a wealth-flaunting online influencer known for his male chauvinism and misogynistic views, has been indicted in Romania for human trafficking and forming an organized criminal group.
Prosecutors formally filed an indictment against Mr. Tate and his younger brother, Tristan, in a Bucharest court on Tuesday. That means they will likely face a trial in Romania, although the timing is unclear, and the indictment still needs to be examined by a judge.
Flanked by bodyguards and wearing sunglasses, the brothers attended a court hearing on Wednesday in Bucharest. They were met by a crowd of photographers, reporters and some fans outside.
Mr. Tate thanked his supporters and accused the news media of lying. They were not the first wealthy men who had been “unfairly attacked,” he said after the hearing, where a judge heard arguments about whether the brothers should stay under house arrest.
“I look forward to being found innocent,” Mr. Tate said.
Here’s what you need to know about the case.
Who is Andrew Tate?
Mr. Tate, 36, is a British American former competitive kickboxer who won greater fame after appearing as a contestant on the British reality television show Big Brother in 2016. He was ejected from the show, according to The Sun tabloid, after a video surfaced of him hitting a woman with a belt, which they both said was consensual.
He amassed a following of millions, many of them young men, across social media and appeared on podcasts boasting of get-rich quick schemes and making demeaning comments about women. Mr. Tate has claimed that men are victims of feminism and that women “belong” to men and need men’s guidance. He has also described ways in which he would physically attack women and called them partly responsible if they were raped.
He has used ostentatious displays of wealth, such as a fleet of luxury cars, to signal his masculinity, and has promised to teach his followers through an online “academy” how to have the same lifestyle, charging them $49.99 a month.
He has also said that he is a victim of “the matrix” — an umbrella term for what he views as a conspiracy by corporate elites, feminists and mainstream politicians to target men.
Educators have raised concerns that Mr. Tate’s messaging is finding traction among young boys wrestling with their own ideas of masculinity in an era of changing gender roles. He and his followers say that his arrest has only fed into a narrative that men are being victimized.
Many social media sites have banned Mr. Tate, but he still has a presence on Twitter, where he has almost seven million followers.
What is Andrew Tate accused of?
The influencer, his brother and two Romanian women have been charged with forming an organized criminal group in 2021 and engaging in human trafficking across Romania, Britain and the United States. Prosecutors have kept some details of the charges against them confidential, but an official in the prosecutor’s office in Romania confirmed that the former kickboxer is also facing accusations of rape.
Investigators have identified seven women who say they were exploited by the group and forced into performing sexual acts on camera, which were then disseminated for financial gain. The brothers first misled the women, prosecutors said, by seducing them and promising them a relationship, a method known as “the lover boy,” and housing them in a compound outside the Romanian capital of Bucharest.
One of the women accused a defendant of raping her on two occasions in March 2022 by using violence and psychological pressure, the prosecutors said. On another occasion, when a woman refused to make more pornographic videos and asked to leave, one of the group used violence against her, they said.
The brothers have denied the accusations against them and maintain their innocence. Mr. Tate has called the case a conspiracy against him and framed himself as a martyr to his Twitter followers.
“Today it’s me. Tomorrow it’s you. Nobody is safe from these lies,” he posted on Twitter on Tuesday.
What led to the indictment?
Mr. Tate has been using Romania as a base since about 2016 and has not disguised his reasons for doing so to his fans.
“I like living in a society where my money, my influence and my power mean that I’m not below or beholden” to any laws, he told them.
He began drawing increased attention last December after he clashed online with the climate activist Greta Thunberg, asking for her email in a tweet so he could boast about his collection of cars and their “enormous emissions.”
Ms. Thunberg’s response, mocking Mr. Tate’s masculinity and suggesting that he needed to get a life, went viral.
There was also widespread speculation online about whether a distinctive pizza box featured in one of Mr. Tate’s tweets to Ms. Thunberg had alerted Romanian authorities to his presence in the country, but a Romanian official said that was not the case.
Mr. Tate, his brother and two others were arrested soon after and investigated for human trafficking, rape and forming an organized criminal group. Initially held in a Bucharest prison, the two were moved to house arrest three months later.
Mr. Tate has since framed himself as a philanthropist, promising to donate money to charity and “save the world.”
What happens next?
With the indictment submitted to the Bucharest court, prosecutors say the trial process will begin, though it will not be immediate. A judge in a preliminary chamber will first look at the case and determine the conditions the accused must adhere to before a date is set.
On Wednesday, the judge heard arguments about whether the Tate brothers would remain under house arrest, but did not make a decision. A ruling has been postponed to Friday, a spokeswoman for the court said.
As part of the indictment, the authorities have requested the confiscation of the brothers’ assets, which they said included more than $100,000 in various currencies, cryptocurrencies valued at about $380,000, land and property in Romania and luxury goods. The defendants will also have to pay the legal costs of the case of about $60,000.
Matei Barbulescu contributed reporting.