George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman and lobbyist who serves as an adviser to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, has been arrested for possessing child pornography, the US Department of Justice announced.
Nader was arrested at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York City on Monday on charges of “transporting visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct,” the department said.
The arrest was based on a 13-month-old sealed indictment that said Nader had sexually explicit pictures of children on his mobile phone when he entered the United States on a previous trip on January 17, 2018.
Nader, who has a history of child pornography cases stretching back to the 1980s, faces a minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 40 years.
The businessman, who joined meetings between top aides of Trump and Middle East officials, also lobbied for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as an adviser to its powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, commonly known as MBZ, a close Saudi ally.
He joined top UAE officials in a key meeting with Trump aides in December 2016 at New York’s Trump Tower, where the prince sought to establish close relations with the incoming president.
Nader is also a consultant to Erik Prince, the founder of American security firm Blackwater.
In 2017, Nader helped arrange a meeting in Seychelles which brought together Trump emissary and Blackwater chief Erik Prince and a close adviser of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kirill Dmitriev, who was likewise seeking ties with the new administration.
Later in 2018, he was interviewed several times by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia meddling investigation as a cooperating witness.
Mueller’s report documents Nader’s role in introducing Dmitriev to Prince, who discussed improving ties between the US and Russia. Nader’s name reportedly shows up more than 100 times in the report.
The new child pornography charges stem from his January 2018 questioning by FBI agents working on behalf of Mueller, at which time child pornography was incidentally found on one of his three cell phones as agents inspected it pursuant to a warrant.
The businessman had been once arrested in the US in 1985 for importing child pornography from the Netherlands, but the charges were dropped on a technicality.
In 1991 he was charged again and sentenced to six months in jail. The records of that case were sealed, reportedly due to Nader’s assisting the US government in secret matters.
He also reportedly spent one year in prison in the Czech Republic in 2003 for sexually abusing 10 boys.
Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak on Monday ordered Nader be held overnight after a federal prosecutor argued that he was a danger to the community and a flight risk.