One of the most popular stories at the end of 2022 was a verbal feud on social media between Greta Thunberg, a climate activist, and Andrew Tate, a former kick-boxer and popular influencer spreading conspiracy theories. Shortly after, Tate was arrested i.a. on human trafficking charges, and media around the world reported that it was a pizza box with the address of a Romanian pizzeria visible in his last response to Greta that led to his arrest. In the article, we explain that it was not the cardboard pizza box that contributed to Andrew Tate’s arrest.
The pizza box theory
The theory about the pizza box that allegedly helped Romanian police track down Andrew Tate was posted on Twitter by Alejandra Caraballo, a civil rights lawyer at Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic. Her post became viral, and the story was picked up by media around the world.
A news segment about Tate’s detention was featured in Fakty TVN. It quoted the statement of Dariusz Nowak, who said:
After casting the nets, all they had to do is wait. When the pizza was delivered to him, the police confirmed that he was in Bucharest in one of his apartments.
In an article on the subject, which has already been edited, it was explicitly stated that the police was tipped off to Andrew Tate’s location by the pizza boxes visible in the video addressed to Greta Thunberg.
Official stance on the pizza box
On Friday, 30 December, the Romanian media denied the information that had spread on the Internet that the address of the pizzeria from the box was to contribute to the arrest of Andrew Tate.
The final statement was released by Ramona Bolla, spokeswoman for Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), as reported by the Washington Post:
Speculation swirled overnight Thursday that Romanian authorities were able to locate Tate after he posted a video in response to Thunberg containing a pizza box from a local spot that gave away his location. Bolla denied that this played a role in the detention or its timing. “It was a hard job gathering all the evidence” in the months-long investigation, Bolla said.
Bolla’s response to the Associated Press was even more blunt:
Bolla, from DIICOT, refuted widespread claims in the media that an address brandished on a pizza box that featured in a video posted by Andrew Tate on Twitter earlier this week led authorities to his arrest. She said the claims are “funny, but no.”
Press Release by the Romanian Police
The Romanian police have published a press release regarding the arrest of a crime group of which Andrew Tate was to be a member. As we can read in it, on 29 December, 5 search warrants were executed in houses belonging to suspects in Bucharest and the Ilfov area.
Four people were arrested — two British citizens and two Romanian nationals. The detainees are suspected of forming an organised crime group involved in recruiting, housing and using, including under coercion, women to create pornographic materials for distribution on the Internet for a fee.
The Romanian court extended the detention of those arrested to 30 days.
The story in which a famous person is arrested after a verbal skirmish with Greta Thunberg by an accidentally revealed address on a pizza box is very funny. No wonder it appealed to the media around the world. However, the group, of which Andrew Tate was to be a member, was under investigation for many months and ultimately the pizza box played no role in determining his location by counter-terrorists.