George Nader, a one-time Trump campaign intermediary who figured in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, was arrested Monday on child pornography charges and detained after a hearing in Brooklyn federal court.
Nader, according to Mueller’s report, brokered a meeting in the Seychelles between Trump supporter Erik Prince and a Russian banker with ties to Vladimir Putin. He was detained Monday to face charges in Virginia that a phone seized from him in January 2018 had sexual videos of boys as young as 3 or 4.
The pictures include boys showing their private parts and having sexual encounters with goats, the charges said. Prosecutors said Nader was a Lebanese citizen with a house and influential contacts in Dubai and urged U.S. Magistrate Cheryl Pollak to hold him without bail as a danger and a flight risk.
“There is no combination of conditions the government believes can protect the public,” said prosecutor Miriam Glaser Dauerman. She said Nader previously pleaded guilty to transporting child pornography in 1991, and faced a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison.
The January 2017 meeting Nader arranged in the Seychelles was of interest to investigators probing whether Prince, the founder of the Blackwater foreign-security firm, was serving as an envoy in an effort to set up a backchannel between President Donald Trump’s administration and Russian leaders.
Nader, the publisher of a magazine on Mideast affairs and known for his contacts in the region, was stopped in January 2018, at Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. — apparently as part of Mueller’s investigation — and three phones were seized from him, including one with the alleged pornography.
The criminal complaint was filed under seal in Virginia in April 2018. His arrest Monday came as he returned to New York from overseas to see a doctor relating to complications from open-heart surgery, Nader’s lawyer Christopher Clark said.
Clark downplayed some of the videos on the phone and said Nader had been a “passive” recipient. He urged Pollak for medical reasons to let Nader travel to Virginia rather than wait for transport by federal marshals, offering to have him guarded round-the-clock by armed guards to make sure he didn’t flee.
Pollak ordered him held overnight, and scheduled another hearing for Tuesday, but said she was skeptical.
“I never heard of such an arrangement,” she said. “He has every incentive in the world to flee.”