Alan Dershowitz made overtures to American and Israeli officials last year to see if they would support a plan to release a convicted pedophile from jail so that he could continue backchannel work in Middle East peace talks, The New York Times reported on Monday.
The report said the high-profile lawyer was trying to ascertain whether then-US president Donald Trump would commute the 10-year sentence of George Nader, who was a senior adviser to Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates. Nader also testified as a key witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
According to the report, Dershowitz helped build a proposal, which allies of Nader were led to believe was raised with the Trump administration, whereby the convicted pedophile would be released from prison and “self-deport” by boarding a private jet provided by the United Arab Emirates.
Nader is thought in the past to have performed a role in backchannel mediation between Israel and Arab countries.
Dershowitz told the newspaper that his efforts to achieve clemency for Nader reflected “a multifaceted approach to these problems. So I don’t separate out diplomacy, legality, courts, executive, Justice Department — they’re all part of what I do.”
Dershowitz acknowledged that his close ties with Trump meant that he was lobbied by people seeking his services, but “the idea that I would ever, ever ingratiate myself to a president in order to be able to advertise myself as a person that could get commutations is just totally false and defamatory.”
Dershowitz told associates of Nader that he called one official in the White House who handled Middle East policy and who “discouraged” the idea, and that then-Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer was “noncommittal” about the plan, the newspaper said.
According to the report, Dershowitz then pivoted to try to reduce Nader’s jail term.
“That was 99 percent of the effort,” Dershowitz told the newspaper, “because the clemency effort directed at commutation was always so uphill considering the nature of the crime that it was never realistic.”
However, Nader’s criminal defense lawyer, Jonathan S. Jeffress, who contracted Dershowitz for his work, said that he believed Dershowitz was in fact seeking for his client to be freed.
“We understood that Mr. Dershowitz was seeking clemency on behalf of Mr. Nader,” Jeffress told the newspaper, “and that he was rejected for the sole reason that Mr. Nader had cooperated in the Mueller investigation.”
Last year, Nader was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of child sex trafficking and possessing child pornography.
Nader admitted transporting a 14-year-old boy from the Czech Republic to Washington, DC, in 2000 to engage in sexual activity with him. He also admitted possessing child pornography depicting infants or toddlers.
Nader was also convicted by Prague’s Municipal Court of 10 cases of sexually abusing minors and sentenced to a one-year prison term in May 2003 for crimes carried out between 1999 and 2002.
In one case, Nader requested oral sex from a 14-year-old in a room at the Hilton Hotel in Prague. After the boy refused, Nader masturbated in front of the boy and paid him 2,000 koruna — worth about $100.
The verdict cited other examples of Nader providing money, jewelry, cellphones, clothes and accommodation for sexual services. Nader was separately accused in Washington, DC, of child pornography infractions in 1985, but those charges were later dropped.
Dershowitz has served a key role in the commutation of sentences of a number of high-profile individuals, including kosher meat executive Sholom Rubashkin.
Rubashkin, who was manager at the Agriprocessors meat plant in Postville, Iowa, was convicted in 2009 of financial fraud for submitting fake invoices to the plant’s bank that made the company’s finances appear healthier than they were so that it could borrow more. His prosecution came after federal authorities raided the plant and arrested 389 illegal immigrants in 2008.
The New York Times said that Dershowitz’s success with Rubashkin led to contact with a number of prisoners’ rights groups, including some linked to Orthodox Jewish community leaders.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.