A Middle East specialist with ties to the Trump White House has arrived in Virginia to face a child pornography charge and will remain in jail before his formal detention hearing, a federal judge said Thursday during a brief court appearance.
George Aref Nader, who informally advised the White House and was a key witness in the Russia investigation, will be back in court on Friday. Nader’s lawyers want a judge to release him from jail, citing a medical condition, though prosecutors have signaled their opposition.
Nader appeared in a khaki jail uniform and appeared to have a medical bracelet on his left wrist. His lawyers previously said he was dealing with complications from recent heart surgery. He answered a few procedural questions in court, speaking softly and mumbling his words.
The hearing was the latest development in a whirlwind week for Nader. He arrived in the US on Monday to receive specialized medical treatment in New York to deal with complications from heart surgery. Instead, he ended up in federal custody on a year-old child pornography charge. He was then driven by FBI agents from New York to Virginia to attend Thursday’s hearing.
The case can be traced back to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Nader was picked up by FBI agents last year after arriving at a New York City airport. While questioning him for the Russia investigation, FBI agents discovered a dozen sexually explicit videos of underage boys, according to court records. He wasn’t charged in the Mueller investigation but federal prosecutors in Virginia secretly charged him with child pornography.
When he returned to the US this week for medical treatment, he was promptly arrested.
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. He helped Mueller fill in the pieces about the infamous Seychelles meeting that brought together Trump supporter Erik Prince and a prominent Russian government banker.
The rendezvous in the Seychelles also included meetings with senior officials from the United Arab Emirates. Nader has been a longtime adviser to Emirati officials and has served as a diplomatic go-between for years, brokering meetings with powerful leaders around the world.
Nader pleaded guilty in the 1990s to transporting child pornography. He has also faced similar allegations in the Czech Republic. He hasn’t had a change to enter a plea yet in Virginia.