Andrew Tate supporters protest in Athens

Andrew Tate supporters Athens January 15, 2023.

Despite Andrew Tate and his brother being investigated on allegations of human trafficking and rape, it has not stopped his fanatical, and youthful, supporters in Greece from staging a protest for him in the capital.

Dozens of teenagers walked through Ermou Street, the main pedestrian shopping strip of Athens, chanting "Free Top G", a reference to self-described misogynists Andrew Tate.

Meanwhile, Romanian authorities said they have seized nearly $4 million worth of assets belonging to controversial internet personality.

Roughly 18 million lei, equivalent to $3,942,700, has been seized, the country’s Asset Recovery and Management Agency (ANABI) said in a press release on Saturday

Among the 29 seized assets are motor vehicles, luxury watches and sums of money in several different currencies, ANABI said.

The seizures were carried out on orders from prosecutors of the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism, according to ANABI.

Video published by Reuters on Saturday shows Romanian authorities at a compound emblazoned with a large “Tate” sign seizing several high-value vehicles, including a Rolls Royce, a BMW and a Mercedes Benz.

Andrew and his brother Tristan Tate were detained in Romania in December as prosecutors pursued claims of human trafficking and rape.

Authorities in Romania said police served search warrants at five homes and took four suspects into custody – two Britons and two Romanians – as part of the investigation.

Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) said the four suspects had been detained for an initial 24 hours.

A Bucharest court accepted an application by DIICOT to hold Tate and his brother Tristan in custody for a further 30 days, their lawyer Eugen Vidineac said on December 30.

DIICOT alleged that the four suspects formed an organized criminal group that stretched from Romania to Britain and the United States, for the purpose of committing the crime of human trafficking.

The authorities allege that two of the suspects misled the victims “into believing that they intended to enter into a marriage/cohabitation relationship” while transporting victims to Romania and later sexually exploiting them with physical violence and coercion.

Authorities also said one of the suspects raped a victim on two separate occasions in March 2022. At least six victims were allegedly “sexually exploited by the organized criminal group,” the DIICOT statement said.

Tate, a former professional kickboxer, is known for his viral rants online about male dominance, female submission and wealth.

He openly advocates violence against women, and had previously been banned from every major social media platform until Elon Musk reinstated his Twitter account after taking over the company.

He rose in prominence earlier this year, with many adults including school teachers voicing alarm about his misogynistic ideas taking root in the minds of countless young boys. Before it was taken down, his TikTok account racked up about 11.6 billion views.

He made headlines the week of his arrest for a Twitter interaction with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who told Tate to get a life after he tweeted about his numerous cars “and their respective enormous emissions.”

There was speculation online that authorities were alerted to Tate’s presence in Romania by the appearance of a particular pizza box in one of the photos he posted in his spat with Thunberg.

But, according to Reuters, a spokesperson for DIICOT said the pizza boxes did not play a role in the detentions.

In one of his social media videos, Andrew Tate explains why he moved to Romania in 2017.

"One of [my reasons] is the #MeToo era," he says. "People say: 'Oh you are a rapist'. No, I am not a rapist, but I like the idea of being able to do what I want, I like being free."

"If she goes to the [Romanian] police and says: 'He raped me yesterday', they'll say ok, do you have evidence? Is there CCTV proof?"

None of this is evidence that Mr Tate was involved in human trafficking or rape, but his assessment of Romania's attitude to sexual crimes is not wrong, says Laura Stefan, a legal expert and prominent anti-corruption campaigner working with the Expert Forum think tank.

"In a way, he's right," she told me. "Listening to him, the way he explained why he came here, I could relate to that; I thought he made a good calculation - unfortunately."

But she says things are changing.

"Romania has a serious problem with trafficking, and I think the Romanian authorities have come to understand that this has to be dealt with," she explained.

"That means not only investigating a handful of hotshots, but also working with the victims and providing them with support."

Last year, Romania made enough progress for the US Trafficking In Persons report to take it off their watchlist.

But the report also repeated concerns about Romanian officials themselves being involved in people trafficking.

This case, involving a controversial, high-profile personality with US-British citizenship, has put a fresh spotlight on how Romania handles allegations of organised crime and sexual exploitation.

Police have less than two weeks to charge the Tate brothers, or find enough evidence to convince a judge to extend their detention while the investigation continues.

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