60 Minutes: Families of crew detained in Lebanon ask public not to judge the situation

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April 17, 2016 By Siobhan Fogarty

The families of a Channel Nine television crew detained in Lebanon have released a joint statement asking the public not to judge the situation until all the facts are known.

Australian mother Sally Faulkner and four members of a 60 Minutes crew are facing abduction charges after they allegedly tried to take Ms Faulkner's children off a street in Beirut.

The family of the Channel Nine employees said they understood their relatives were "keeping their spirits up and are being well looked after by the Lebanese authorities".

They said they were comforted to know their loved ones were "in good health" but described the situation as "a living nightmare" and said "it's hard to imagine it could be any tougher".

"But if we have one message it's that people who have been so quick to judge should at least wait until all the facts are known. We haven't spoken to our partners since before they were arrested," the statement said.

"Very few of the facts are clear at this stage. If we don't have all the facts, how can anyone else?"

The statement also said some of the families had not been able to tell the children of the detained crew what was happening as it was not an easy conversation to have with a five or seven-year-old.

They said they were "anxious and worried sick" but maintained the television network has been giving them daily updates.

The statement said the crew was covering an important story but acknowledged that something went wrong.

It is understood Ms Faulkner has asked estranged husband Ali el-Amien to drop Lebanese abduction charges against her in exchange for her renouncing all claims to custody and cooperating in getting a divorce.

If Mr el-Amien agrees to drop the charges, Ms Faulkner will give up sole custody granted to her by the Family Court in Australia.

Mr el-Amien got his own custody ruling from a religious court in Lebanon, but it is not clear when it was issued.

The ABC has been told the Lebanese judge does not view the recovery as a kidnapping, but rather as a mother trying to reunite with her children.

Ms Faulkner hopes for the right to see her children whenever she wants in Lebanon, Australia or a third country.

If Mr el-Amien agrees to drop charges against Ms Faulkner, she would likely be released on bail and it could reduce the severity of charges against all involved.

Ms Faulkner's Lebanese lawyer Ghassan Moghabghab said Ms Faulkner was in the car when alleged operatives of Child Abduction Recovery International grabbed her son and daughter off a Beirut street and bundled them into the waiting car.

The team made a clean getaway, but was caught not long after the fact. Soon after, the boy and girl were returned to the father and Ms Faulkner and the 60 Minutes crew were arrested.



Written by

Siobhan Fogarty


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