A former key witness in the Russia probe led by Robert Mueller, George Aref Nader, was detained after he was accused of “transporting visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.”
According to CNN, citing the Justice Department, Nader had previously pleaded guilty to the same charge in 1991. If convicted, Nader is facing a prison sentence between 15 and 40 years.
Nader was charged by prosecutors in Virginia, but made his initial appearance before a magistrate judge in Brooklyn on Monday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollack postponed a decision on Nader’s bail until Tuesday in order to give Nader’s attorney additional time to provide details of a proposed security arrangement that can accommodate what the attorney said is his client’s serious medical condition.
Pollack said if not for Nader’s health concerns she would have ordered him remanded to the Eastern District of Virginia.
“He has every incentive to flee,” she said.
Pollack ordered Nader to be detained overnight ahead of his bail hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, according to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
The Mueller report mentions Nader in nearly four dozen footnotes, including references to his interviews with special counsel investigators, and other materials, like his emails and text messages.
Prosecutors filed a secret criminal complaint against Nader on January 17, 2018, according to the Justice Department. CNN previously reported that Nader was questioned by the FBI on that date, the first of several sessions with investigators from Mueller’s office.
Investigators seized electronic devices from Nader that same day and had a warrant to search his luggage, according to the Justice Department. The warrants were issued in relation to a “matter unrelated to child pornography,” according to the FBI.
Nader’s arrest warrant was issued and a sealed criminal complaint was filed in April 2018, according to court records. Prosecutors sought to keep it confidential to prevent him from fleeing or tampering with evidence until he was arrested.
According to an FBI affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, the FBI found a dozen graphic pornographic videos of young boys on one of his iPhones.
“He’s a sick man,” the attorney said.
His attorney has proposed he be transported by ambulance with armed security to the Eastern District of Virginia, an arrangement his lawyer said Nader himself would pay for.
Nader helped the Mueller investigation by providing multiple interviews and testifying before the grand jury. The Mueller report said “all but one” of his interviews were conducted “under a proffer agreement” where he could provide information with some legal protection.