Andrew Tate, a former professional kickboxer and online personality who frequently made misogynistic comments about women to his large following on social media sites, was detained by the authorities in Romania on Thursday in an investigation of human trafficking and rape, according to the police.
Prosecutors with the Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism in Romania said in a statement on Thursday that two Britons and two Romanians were being detained for 24 hours as part of the investigation. The statement did not name Mr. Tate, but the police in Romania confirmed on Friday that he and his brother, Tristan, both of whom are dual British and American citizens, were among those detained. The brothers live in Romania, according to Mr. Tate’s website.
Prosecutors said that the local authorities had carried out searches of homes they believed were connected to human trafficking and rape. The authorities said they were investigating whether the suspects created a criminal group in 2021 to engage in human trafficking in Romania, the United States and Britain.
Six victims, who were allegedly coerced into performing sexual acts, were housed in buildings outside of Bucharest, prosecutors said. On two separate occasions in March, one of the suspects used violence and psychological pressure to rape a victim, prosecutors said.
Mr. Tate, who is in his mid-30s, rose to prominence in 2016 after appearing on the British version of the reality television show “Big Brother.” He has continued to build his online presence, often making hateful comments, including that women who are raped are partially responsible for the attacks.
Mr. Tate drew attention again this week after getting into a spat on Twitter with the 19-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, bragging about his collection of exotic cars and their “enormous emissions” and asking for her email address. Ms. Thunberg replied with an address ending in “@getalife.com.”
Speculation online centered on whether a distinctive pizza box featured in one of Mr. Tate’s tweets to Ms. Thunberg had helped lead the authorities to him, but Ramona Bolla, a spokeswoman for the Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism, told The New York Times on Friday that that was not the case.
It was unclear whether Mr. Tate and the other suspects would face charges or whether they were still being held. But prosecutors asked a court in Bucharest to extend Mr. Tate’s detention by 30 days, Reuters reported.
Mr. Tate did not respond to a request for comment, but on Friday morning, he tweeted, “The Matrix sent their agents.”
Lawyers for Mr. Tate, his brother and the other two detainees, whom the authorities did not identify, could not be reached.
In August, Mr. Tate was barred from Facebook, YouTube and TikTok, with all of them citing violations of their policies. He was also briefly barred from Twitter but was reinstated to the platform, where he has 3.7 million followers, after Elon Musk purchased the company in October.
Stefania Matache contributed reporting from Bucharest, Romania.