BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) -- A Romanian court on Wednesday upheld a second 30-day detention for the divisive influencer and former professional kickboxer Andrew Tate who is held on suspicion of organized crime and human trafficking, an official said.
Tate lost his appeal against a judge's Jan. 20 decision to extend his arrest a second time for 30 days, said Ramona Bolla, a spokesperson for Romania's anti-organized crime agency DIICOT.
Tate, 36, a British-U.S. citizen who has nearly 5 million followers on Twitter, arrived at the Bucharest Court of Appeal handcuffed to his brother Tristan, who is held in the same case along with two Romanian women. None of the four have yet been formally charged.
The court rejected their appeals and all will remain in custody until Feb. 27 as prosecutors continue investigating the case. They previously lost an appeal against an earlier 30-day extension.
A document seen by The Associated Press explaining the Jan. 20 decision said the judge took into account the "particular dangerousness of the defendants" and their capacity to identify victims "with an increased vulnerability, in search of better life opportunities."
Tina Glandian, an American lawyer who has previously represented celebrities including singer Chris Brown and former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, joined the Tates' legal defense team on Wednesday to work alongside them.
"The defense team made extensive legal arguments pointing out the lack of evidence against the Tate brothers," she told a news conference before the ruling. "It's no secret that the Tate brothers are controversial public personas, but this is not about their public persona ... this is about the violation of international human rights and the due process of law."
"So far the system has failed," she said. "The Tate brothers, who are both U.S. citizens, have been in jail for over 30 days now without bail and without any charges filed against them."
As the Tates left the court after Wednesday's morning hearing, Andrew Tate said: "Ask them for evidence and they will give you none, because it doesn't exist. You'll find out the truth of this case soon."
Tate, who has reportedly lived in Romania since 2017, was previously banned from various prominent social media platforms for expressing misogynistic views and hate speech. He has claimed there is "zero evidence" against him in the case and alleged it is instead a "political" attack to silence him.
"My case is not criminal, it's political. It's not about justice or fairness. It's about attacking my influence on the world," read a post that appeared on his Twitter account on Sunday.
His Twitter following has increased by several hundred thousand since he was first arrested in December. An online petition launched in January to free the brothers has garnered nearly 100,000 signatures.
After the Tates and the two women were arrested, the DIICOT anti-organized crime agency said in a statement that it had identified six victims in the human trafficking case who were subjected to "acts of physical violence and mental coercion" and were sexually exploited by members of the alleged crime group.
The agency said victims were lured with pretenses of love, and later intimidated, placed under surveillance and subjected to other control tactics while being coerced into engaging in pornographic acts for substantial financial gain.
Last month, Romanian authorities descended on a compound near Bucharest linked with the Tate brothers and towed away a fleet of luxury cars that included a Rolls-Royce, a Ferrari and a Porsche. They reported seizing assets worth an estimated $3.9 million.
Prosecutors have said that if they can prove the cars' owners gained money through illicit activities such as human trafficking, the assets would be used to cover the expenses of the investigation and to compensate victims. Tate also unsuccessfully appealed the asset seizure.
McGrath reported from Sighisoara, Romania.