BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – Announcing the arrest of a witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation with links to associates of President Donald Trump, prosecutors said Monday that George Aref Nader had multiple cellphones with child pornography involving toddler-age boys and farm animals.
Nader’s criminal complaint was filed under seal over a year ago in the Eastern District of Virginia, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak in the Eastern District of New York refused to grant Nader bail this afternoon.
“I definitely believe he has every incentive in the world to flee,” Pollak said Monday afternoon. “There is nothing to keep him here.”
In an affidavit accompanying the complaint, FBI Special Agent Ted Delacourt describes the disturbing contents of 12 separate videos he said investigators found on iPhones in Nader’s possession, which were seized on a warrant. One video depicted a boy, age 13 or 14, apparently penetrating a goat with its legs tied together, while others depicted boys age 3 or 4 having their genitals sucked on by baby goats or pecked by chickens, Delacourt said.
The charge of transportation of visual depictions of minors carries a mandatory-minimum sentence of 15 years.
Nader’s criminal history with child-exploitation charges is recounted in the affidavit. Nader pleaded guilty in 1991 after he was indicted for transporting video reels of child pornography in candy tins through Washington-Dulles International Airport. A dual citizen of the United States and Lebanon, Nader was also convicted in 2003 for the sexual abuse of 10 boys in the Czech Republic.
He has acted as an “informal adviser” to the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, according to The New York Times. Miriam Glaser Dauermann for the United States pointed out the U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with the UAE, posing a problem were Nader to flee there.
Nader, a businessman and lobbyist, was represented Monday by Christopher Clark at Latham & Watkins LLP, who refused to give his name to reporters after the hearing.
Clark described one of the videos as a family video, but it wasn’t clear what he meant by that, and the judge didn’t buy it.
“Some of these videos involve young boys with goats, 3 to 4 years old, so I don’t consider that to be as innocent as you are suggesting that these are,” Pollak said.
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.
In a case unrelated to his child-pornography charges, Nader testified in the Mueller investigation in exchange for partial immunity.
Clark said Monday that Nader appeared four times to testify in the Mueller probe even though he knew the iPhones in question were in the possession of the government, which he said signaled Nader was not a flight risk in this case either.
“Every one of the images that’s listed here [in the criminal complaint] was an unsolicited image sent to Mr. Nader in a text,” Clark said. “There’s no confirmation that he reviewed them” or solicited them, he continued.
Clark told Pollak that Nader suffers from serious health problems, calling for the court to have his client moved to Virginia via ambulance and held there by armed guards in a medical facility.
Diminutive with a receding hairline, Nader attended today’s hearing in Brooklyn in tan prison scrubs. Clark said his client had open heart-surgery five weeks ago and complications two weeks after that. He was coming to New York for an appointment with a cardiologist at Mount Sinai, Clark said, a claim the government did not contest.
“He has every incentive to flee, he has every ability to flee,” said Dauermann.
The judge told Clark to come back Tuesday at 2 p.m. with a better bail offer.
“You need to come up with the best package you can,” she said, “because I think this guy is a serious risk of flight and clearly, from these videos, poses a serious danger to the community.”