Romanian court eases travel restrictions on influencer Andrew Tate

BUCHAREST (Reuters) -A Romanian court ruled on Friday that internet personality Andrew Tate can travel within the European Union without restrictions while he awaits trial on human trafficking charges, his lawyer said.

Tate was indicted in mid-2023 along with his brother, Tristan, and two Romanian women on charges of human trafficking, rape and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women, accusations they have denied.

In April this year, the Bucharest court ruled their trial can start, a decision Tate has appealed.

Pending a ruling on his appeal, the four suspects had been banned from leaving Romania, but Friday's court decision lifted the restriction for the European Union. The decision is not final and can be appealed by prosecutors.

"My judges decided ... I'm allowed to leave Romania, so do we take the (Ferrari) SF90 to Italy, the (Maserati) MC20 to Cannes, the (Ferrari) 812 Competition to Paris, where do I go?" Tate said in a video posted on social media platform X.

The Tate brothers, both former kickboxers with dual U.S. and British citizenship, are the highest-profile suspects facing trial for human trafficking in Romania and their case will be a test for Romania's anti-organised crime prosecuting unit DIICOT.

The brothers were held in police custody during the criminal investigation from late December 2022 until April 2023 to prevent them from fleeing the country or tampering with evidence.

They were then placed under house arrest until August, when courts put them under judicial control, a lighter preventative measure.

"Andrew and Tristan are still determined to clear their name and reputation; however, they are grateful to the courts for placing this trust in them," the brothers' lead defence lawyer Eugen Vidineac said in a statement.

Romanian prosecutors have said the Tate brothers recruited their victims by seducing them and falsely claiming to want a relationship or marriage.

They said the victims were then taken to properties outside the capital Bucharest, and through physical violence and mental intimidation were sexually exploited by being forced to produce pornographic content for social media sites that generated large financial gain.

Tate, a self-described misogynist, has gained millions of fans by promoting an ultra-masculine lifestyle that critics say denigrates women.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie and Alan Charlish;Editing by Helen Popper)