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Witness in Mueller probe arrested for child porn

[WASHINGTON] George Nader, a well-connected Middle East fixer for the Trump campaign and a witness in the Russia meddling investigation, was arrested Monday for possessing child pornography, the Justice Department said.

Nader, who joined meetings between top aides of President Donald Trump and Middle East officials and also lobbied for the United Arab emirates, was arrested at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York 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 cell phone when he entered the United States on a previous trip on January 17, 2018.

Nader, who has a history of child porn cases stretching back to 1985, faces a minimum of 15 years in prison and as much as 40 years.

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Nader, 60, is Lebanese American, and a long-time go-between for governments in the Middle East and an advisor to the powerful crown prince of the UAE, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

He joined top UAE officials in a key meeting with Trump aides in December 2016 in which the prince sought to establish close relations with the incoming president.

Weeks later Nader helped arrange a meeting in the Seychelles which brought together Trump emissary Erik Prince and a close advisor of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kirill Dmitriev, who was likewise seeking ties with the new administration.

He was also reportedly involved in a UAE effort to funnel money through Elliott Broidy, a Trump business associate and Republican fundraiser, to influence congressional views on Qatar.

Nader was arrested in the United States 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 the early 2000s for sex crimes involving minors.

Last year, he was interviewed several times by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia meddling investigation as a cooperating witness.

Mr Mueller's report documents Nader's role in introducing Mr Dmitriev to Mr Prince, who discussed improving ties between the United States and Russia.

AFP