June 4, 2019 6:44 pm

Mueller investigation witness to face child pornography charges in Virginia

FILE - This 1998 frame from video provided by C-SPAN shows George Nader, president and editor of Middle East Insight.

(C-SPAN via AP, File)
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A Lebanese-American businessman who provided grand jury testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller agreed Tuesday to be transferred to Virginia to face child pornography charges.

George Nader, 60, waived a preliminary hearing in Brooklyn federal court after two FBI agents agreed to drive him to Alexandria, where Nader is expected to appear in court later this week.

Nader agreed to the transfer despite concerns his defence attorney raised about his debilitating heart disease.

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“Mr. Nader does not have a healthy heart,” attorney Christopher J. Clark told a federal magistrate.

Nader flew to New York from the United Arab Emirates to see a cardiologist, an appointment Clark described as a critical follow-up to an earlier procedure Nader underwent in Germany that addressed a “widow-maker” lesion.

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Nader was arrested Monday at John F. Kennedy International Airport on child pornography charges that prosecutors had filed against him in April 2018.

Nader’s grand jury testimony came after a December 2016 meeting at New York’s Trump Tower that he attended with presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, former chief strategist Steve Bannon and Mohammed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

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Authorities seized Nader’s phones in January 2018 at Dulles International Airport in Virginia as part of an investigation unrelated to child pornography, according to court filings.

Investigators say they found 12 separate videos, including some that depict children as young as 3 enduring painful abuse. Federal authorities said the illicit material also included sexual contact involving animals.

Clark declined to comment on the charges following Tuesday’s hearing, telling reporters he had “nothing whatsoever” to say.

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Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak ordered Nader to spend Tuesday night in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

Two FBI agents, including one who has received training as a paramedic, agreed to pick Nader up from the federal facility Wednesday morning and drive him more than 230 miles (370 kilometres) to a jail in Alexandria, Virginia.

Pollak referred to the government’s proposal of the FBI driving Nader as “creative.” Transportation of federal prisoners typically falls to the U.S. Marshals Service.

At least one of the FBI agents making the trip was involved in the investigation of Nader, prosecutors said. Clark consented to the agents recording any conversations they have with Nader during the trip.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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