60 Minutes crew charged, could face a minimum three years in a Lebanon jail

If you’ve been following the Starts at 60 coverage of the 60 Minutes crew, we can reveal that kidnapping charges

If you’ve been following the Starts at 60 coverage of the 60 Minutes crew, we can reveal that kidnapping charges have now been filed against them for the botched child recovery mission in Lebanon.

Tara Brown, her senior producer Stephen Rice, camera man Ben Williamson and the sound recorder David Ballment are facing four separate charges, including kidnapping, causing harm and not respecting local authority.

The crew were put before the judge individually to answer the kidnapping charges, which carries between three years and life if found guilty.

A spokesperson from foreign minister Julie Bishop’s office said the prosecution also recommended charged be laid against the mother, Sally Faulkner.

Faulkner, also appeared before the judge to answer questions. She was visibly distressed and was brought to tears when she saw her estranged husband standing in the courthouse.

Brown was brought handcuffed into the court.

She told journalists she was “fine” before being escorted to a private meeting with the judge.

It’s understood that Brown’s meeting with the judge also involved the childrens’ father Ali Elamine, who is accusing the 60 Minutes journalist, her crew and Faulkner.

The judge will be the one to decide if the group will be released on bail or whether further detention will be served while investigations continue.

60 Minutes have been reported to have denied the claims, which have allegedly been made in a signed statement by one of the detained child recovery agency personnel. However, the Sydney Morning Herald has revealed that Faulkner sent text messages to a child recovery agency during the operation with Brown and the 60 Minutes crew that indicate the group were in trouble.

The plot thickens, but this is certainly a worrying time for Tara Brown, the 60 Minutes crew with her and their families.

What are your thoughts on this case?

  1. Michael Cole  

    Have no sympathy at all for these people. Channel 9 was doing it for a desperately needed ratings bonanza..Nothing more. Maybe journalists will now realize that they can’t just ride rough shod over everyone whenever they feel like it Imagine if it was the other way round , 60 minutes would be on to it in a heart beat and condemning it….Kidnapping is an offence in all countries so why would Channel 9 think otherwise…Ratings that’s why..

    • Elaine Ott  

      Agreed (with Michael Cole). Whenever you enter a foreign country you need to respect and abide by that country’s rules otherwise face the consequences. I don’t see why our government must always pick up the pieces of the fall out created by stupid and irresponsible decisions.

      • Ross Roworth  

        Agree with the above.
        They will probably make up for their bungled kidnap show with the usual tearful prison episode.
        As pointed out by another correspondent, would they attempt such a farce in Australia and set up a kidnap attempt back to Lebanon.
        Let them do a few years in jail and give us all a break from their rubbish show.

    • Deb  

      Do we not have any balls anymore. Is this our stand on anything these days. Our layback attitude will be our undoing. Ummm father KIDNAPPED and took them out of this (our home) country. We have no ties to this Country, they certainly aint gonna help. So after you have exhausted all other avenues, who are ya gonna call. Ratings! So What! If my ……….. husband did that to me I’d be hiring more than a ……… news team. You forget peeps, HE did the wrong thing. Please Keep that in mind. Some of you are so blasé about the world and what really goes on. Journo’s do understand more and have their pulse on more than you the general public know. So stop criticising and start feeling for a Mum who made a mistake and married this man and has now lost her family, and for people who have tried to help her and in the process made mistakes as well. I know I wouldnt want my children to be subject to some culturual experiences in these countries.

  2. David Humberstone  

    9 have beeen guilty of dodgy stories for years way back to Ray Martins days ar ACA. Tara Brown was involved in a completely false story that cost a NFP community organisation many 10’s of$1000 in legal fees. What goes around comes around. This is just another case of so called journalists getting caught out.

  3. Margaret Mason  

    To be perfectly honest – no. Fancy heading into a foreign country with camera crew etc etc to ‘film’ what needed to be something done very secretly. Red flags must have gone up in Lebanon when a news team arrived at the same time as the Mum of the children. They have broken the laws of the country into which they travelled and must have known that. In Lebanon, the law said Dad had custody. Whether or not we/they agree with that is irrelevant as far as the law is concerned. Had Dad done the same thing in Australia, wouldn’t he have been treated the same way? It is worthwhile watching http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/media-watch/FA1535H011S00 for a little more information which indicates that quite a bit of relevant information is not coming across in our media.
    And – this is just after the Grandmother of the kiddies stranded in Syria returned without being able to ‘collect’ her grandies and great-grandy. She had gone into a country with which Australia has no diplomatic relations and which it is pretty much unlawful for Aussies to visit – with a heap of publicity in our media which again, must have raised the red flags over there. I’m trying to decide whether or not the media needs to butt out of such operations completely because they significantly decrease their chance of success. I guess in both cases, the money offered was too good to refuse.

  4. Kim  

    They know the laws in these countries and people willing to do anything for a story have to acept the consequences.

  5. Helga Collins  

    I can’t believe the comments I have just read. The mother is being charged with kidnaping while her husband is the kidnaper, any mother would try and do the same. I think the crew were doing it not just for the money or notoriety as the previous comments would suggest. Very judgemental. My heart goes out to them all and hoping for a good outcome.

    • Well, are we sure that this is the case? I know we’ve heard her side of the story. Don’t forget the 3 teenage girls on the run from their Italian Fathers a couple of years ago – who admitted later on that they’d been coached on what to say. Let’s wait.

      The crew went into a foreign country to commit an illegal act. I can’t imagine what they thought they were doing or how they thought they’d get away with it? Doesn’t 60 Minutes have a legal team that tells them when this is going to be a huge pile of…mess?

    • Jill Vanderkooi  

      The mother’s side of the story certainly needed verifying and certainly it would appear this has not been the case. Did the mother approach the father and attempt to come to an arrangement? This would have been the best approach for the two children, and the whole family. Filming the abduction of two children, and violence against a grandmother (what if she had hit her head which resulted in an acquired brain injury), all for money and ratings is not only unethical, it is insane. Why sympathy – my sympathy goes to the two children and the grandparents.

    • Judith Gibbs  

      I agree… The father is the culprit… They are Australian kids who need to be back in Australia… As far as the crew goes, they were only giving what the viewers want journalism is their trade. It is a tragedy for all concerned… Yes, they were doing it for the ratings but that’s their job and their business. Too bad if all those uncompromising and mean spirited critics were caught out doing something in their jobs which was morally right but legally questionable. We need to get those kids back here and those filming and reporting it home too… The father needs to be made accountable. As I said – they were just doing their job for goodness sake. Very sad.

  6. Martin  

    What about him taking the childern out of Australia and saying he will return. So he should be charged with chlid stealing. He also knew there no extradition treaty with Australia so he was on safe grounds.

    • Jill Vanderkooi  

      How do you know this is in fact what happened?

  7. Warren Wiggins  

    Not sorry at all. Journalists think they are saviours and above the law of other countries. They just want ratings for what is a personal situation between two adults.

  8. Rose  

    The husband should be charged and put in jail because he kidnapped his child. There are rules you can’t take children out of state let alone Australia he committed the crime. So the 2 countries should work together to do more about the husband than the poor mother and the people who were trying to help her.

    • Corrine  

      Unless there is a court order in place one parent does not need permission to take the child interstate (from personal experience), obviously if its overseas she would have had to sign for the passports but if she was worried she should have then had a binding document signed by both parties stating they have permission to leave but must return by set date

  9. Mia Van Der Stam  

    I cant believe some of the harsh criticism by a lot of commenters- thank God for TV programs that keeps an eye on all sorts of injustices. The father broke Australian law. I say the crew were brave and just trying to get justice for the mother and child. Imagine the childs fear being taken from mum and in a strange country. So heartless.

    • Kate  

      The father didn’t break Australian law. He went to Lebanon with his children which his wife was aware of and consented to. Once over there, he decided not to come back due to there being no work prospects for him here in Australia. No laws have actually been broken by the father.

    • Jill Vanderkooi  

      How do you know the father broke the law?

  10. Penny  

    Did I miss something? I haven’t read anywhere, where the channel 9 people were the kidnappers. So far as I am aware, they were covering a story which is, after all, what journalists do. Just because a Lebanese or any other middle eastern court charges someone with something, doesn’t mean they did it. Their laws are archaic. I suppose those who think the Lebanese making these claims are true, means you also believe beheading or stoning women to death is ok too because the women were raped, because this is what these countries do.

    • Moira Casey  

      Well said Penny and also Jan Foley.

    • Jill Vanderkooi  

      Surely the crew were colluding with kidnapping and were at least accessories after the fact. How do you know in this case the mother was telling the truth? The father appears to be a very compassionate person from what I can glean. Disrespect and violence is never okay. How do you know it was the father who was disrespectful and violent in this case? It appears the mother could be the one who was disrespectful and violent.

  11. Jan Foley  

    Go right back to who created this situation!! The father! He stole the children and took them out of Australia! He is the one who should be charged. Channel 9 must have known the risks before they went to Lebanon. I hope the mother and her children, Tara and her colleagues are released and able to come home to their families soon.

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