ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – A witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference of the 2016 election, already accused of possessing child pornography, was indicted Friday on charges of transporting a 14-year-old boy from Europe to Washington, D.C. for sex.
George Aref Nader, a 60-year old Lebanese American businessman and former adviser and expert on the United Arab Emirates, was also charged with transporting child pornography in the indictment filed in Alexandra, Virginia, federal court. Pleading not guilty, Nader is set to go on trial Sept. 30.
According to the five-page indictment unsealed Friday, Nader transported the boy from Europe to the United States by way of Dulles International Airport in February 2000. Prosecutors claim he intended to engage in sexual activity with the minor at his home in Washington, D.C. Defense attorneys for Nader are expected to argue for dismissal of the charges given the amount of time that has passed.
In a separate case, prosecutors charged Nader under seal and arrested him at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York last month as he returned from Dubai to the United States. That indictment, also filed in Virginia, alleged Nader possessed graphic and sexually explicit videos and images of children on his cellphone when entering the U.S. in January 2018.
However, the indictment stayed under wraps as Nader agreed to cooperate with special counsel Mueller. Investigators in Mueller’s office sought more information about attempts from foreign officials, like Nader’s contacts in the United Arab Emirates, to influence U.S politics by reaching out to then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016.
During a brief court appearance Friday morning, U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema denied Nader bail, citing a potential flight risk given his “extensive overseas connections” and the nature of the charges.
Nader grabbed Mueller’s attention because he served as a point person for associates of Trump’s campaign. Back in August 2016, Nader met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower to offer to help with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and then a few months later attended a meeting with UAE officials and Trump associates Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn.
Nader was reportedly interested in setting up meetings between the crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed, and members of the Trump team. Not long after the initial meeting, Nader also arranged a face-to-face with Trump associate Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev, a close ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
By April 2017, Nader was acting as an informal adviser to the UAE and reportedly wired some $2.5 million to Trump campaign fundraiser Elliot Broidy.
Unrelated to his child-pornography charges, Nader testified in the special counsel’s investigation in exchange for partial immunity.
Mueller’s team interviewed Nader at length during the probe, and his name appears over 100 times in the final 448-page report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The new charges are not Nader’s first run-in with law enforcement. He pleaded guilty to transporting child pornography in the Eastern District of Virginia in 1991 and was convicted by the Prague Municipal Court in the Czech Republic for sexually abusing boys in 2003. He only served six months in jail in the Virginia case and a year in Prague.
According to The Washington Post, among other influential figures who argued on his behalf in court and helped secure a light sentence was real estate developer Guilford Glazer, a now deceased friend of former President Ronald Reagan. Glazer wrote a letter to federal prosecutors praising Nader as a key resource in the brokerage of hostage relief efforts between Israel and Hezbollah.
Going even further back, a search warrant was issued in 1984 after a postal inspector spotted a package from Amsterdam addressed to the lobbyist that seemed suspicious. Nader later admitted in court that it contained child pornography, but the case was thrown out over a technicality about rules on importing obscene materials. Two lesser charges were dropped and he was never convicted.