In the grand web of the Mueller investigation, Lebanese-American businessman George Nader enters at a key point off the coast of East Africa. An adviser to Emirati crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Nader reportedly brokered a meeting in the Seychelles between a Russian surrogate close to Putin and Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who has denied that he represented the Trump administration in any capacity.
According to Nader’s testimony in the Mueller report, that claim is dubious at best: Prince once told lawmakers he didn’t “fly there to meet any Russian guy,” but Nader told the special counsel he informed Prince that Russia was “looking to build a link with the incoming Trump administration.” The businessman, long considered a liaison between Washington and Middle Eastern officials, was a major source of information for the special counsel: The redacted Mueller report released in April refers to Nader in almost four dozen footnotes.
Nader provided testimony on the alleged attempt to establish a back channel between Trump and Moscow in exchange for immunity on any related charges. But on Monday, Nader was arrested on child-pornography charges in New York when he arrived at JFK airport. Justice Department officials state that Nader was originally charged in January 2018, when he arrived in Washington, D.C., from Dubai with a phone containing pictures of minors engaging in sexual conduct.
An affidavit unsealed on Monday asserts that a search warrant approved for a “matter unrelated to child pornography” allowed federal agents to search items on Nader. Upon his arrival in D.C. in January 2018, the FBI interviewed him on “a matter unrelated to child pornography,” after which Nader was told of the warrant. Three of his phones were seized, and an agent found “multiple files” of child pornography, at which point a second search warrant was issued to search for similar files. According to the affidavit, 12 sexually explicit videos of minors were found on Nader’s phones. If convicted, the 60-year-old faces a minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of 40 years.
This is not a new legal issue for Nader: The businessman has faced charges of child pornography or underage sexual abuse every decade since the 1980s. In 1991, he served a six-month sentence after pleading guilty to the same charge after he flew from Germany to D.C. with two sexually explicit videotapes of 13- or 14-year-old boys. In 1985, he faced a similar charge for importing from the Netherlands magazines with depictions of naked children, a charge that was dismissed after a judge ruled the search warrant for Nader’s home was invalid. In 2003, he was convicted in the Czech Republic of sexually abusing 10 boys between 1999 and 2002, for which he served one year in prison.