Charges against Sally Faulkner and 60 Minutes news crew dropped in Lebanon abduction case

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner and the crew of Australian current affairs program 60 Minutes are free to leave Lebanon after kidnapping charges against them were today dropped.

Faulkner reportedly made a deal to secure her release, accepting her estranged husband Ali el-Amine's custody of her two children. This comes after she allegedly hired professionals to abduct the children in Beirut on April 7 while in the care of their Lebanese grandmother.

While personal charges against Australian journalist Tara Brown, her three crew members and Faulkner have been dropped, they still face criminal charges in Lebanon of kidnapping and being members of a criminal gang. If the state chooses to pursue these charges, it could require the accused to return to answer them.

Channel Nine Middle East correspondent Tom Steinfort said that Nine's lawyers have confirmed bail has been paid for the TV crew, and that they will fly to Australia from Beirut tonight.

The deal between El-Amine and Channel Nine resulted in a significant financial settlement, Fairfax Media reports.

El-Amine is still pursuing charges carrying a maximum 20-year sentence against the crew of Child Abduction Recovery International (CARI) who allegedly conducted the operation.

Adam Whittington of CARI, along with several others involved in the alleged kidnapping, remained in custody. Their lawyers claimed positive developments in the case, saying "everyone will take advantage of the deal."

In remarks on Monday to News Corp Australia, Whittington said he has receipts for A$115,000 paid directly by the Nine Network to fund the operation.

According to Steinfort, in dropping charges against the 60 Minutes crew, El-Amine told Judge Rami Abdullah the reporters were 'just doing their job', and later joked to Steinfort about his relationship with Channel Nine.


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