Twitter feud did not aid in Andrew Tate's arrest

Copyright AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

Social media posts claim a Twitter exchange between Andrew Tate and climate activist Greta Thunberg revealed the social media influencer's location before his arrest in Romania. But authorities say the video is not how they found Tate, who was detained on human trafficking charges after a thorough investigation.

"Andrew Tate has been ARRESTED for forcing at least 6 women into filming adult videos, after a PIZZA BOX in his video dissing Greta Thunberg gave away his location," says a December 30, 2022 Facebook post.

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken January 3, 2023

The claim was amplified on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and TikTok -- including in French. Greek, Austrian, Swiss, British and American news sites made similar insinuations.

Tate and his brother Tristan, both British-US citizens, were detained along with two Romanian citizens on December 29, 2022. All four face charges of human trafficking, rape and organized crime, according to a police report, and have been placed in pre-trial detention for 30 days.

The arrest came two days after Tate -- a former kickboxer who shares misogynist rhetoric online -- had a heated Twitter exchange with Thunberg in which he posted a video attempting to mock the 20-year-old Swedish activist.

In the clip, viewed more than 18.6 million times on Twitter, Tate receives pizza boxes from the Romanian fast-food chain Jerry's Pizza.

Screenshot of Andrew Tate's Twitter video taken January 3, 2023

This led to theories, first promoted on Twitter by lawyer and Harvard University professor Alejandra Caraballo, that the pizza boxes in Tate's video may have alerted Romanian authorities to his presence in the country.

"This is what happens when you don’t recycle your pizza boxes," Thunberg said in a December 30 tweet.

But the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), Romania's anti-mafia prosecutor that investigates trafficking offenses, said the theory is false.

"It's unrelated," spokeswoman Ramona Bolla told AFP on December 30. "To ascertain whether a person is in the country or not, we use a range of means. The fact that he posted a video that night showing a box of Jerry’s Pizza would only confirm to us what we already knew."

She added that search warrants were already in place when Tate published the clip.

Thunberg's press officer told AFP the activist's tweet about recycling pizza boxes was "a joke" and that she had "not been in contact with the Romanian authorities."

The footage was also not the first indication that Tate was in Romania. On December 25, he tweeted a clip of a mountain landscape with the caption: "Romania."

Using geolocation techniques, AFP found the video was filmed overlooking the Transfagarasan road in Romania. Below is a comparison of Tate's tweet and Google Street View.

Screenshot of a tweet taken January 4, 2023

 

 

According to the prosecutor's statement, six of Tate's alleged victims have been identified. Each was allegedly coerced by Tate and his co-conspirators before being kidnapped and forced into prostitution and filming pornography.

Romanian authorities have investigated Tate since early 2021. Police raided his villa in April 2022, where two women -- one an American citizen -- claimed the Tate brothers forcibly held them before their release.

In 2016, Tate appeared on the TV show Big Brother but was eliminated from the competition after a video surfaced showing him hitting a woman. And in 2017, he tweeted that women "bear some responsibility" for being raped.

Tate was banned from Twitter that same year after breaking community guidelines. But he was let back on the platform after Elon Musk took over in October 2022, and his content is still shared online.

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