Lebanon frees Australian TV crew in kidnap case

Lebanon frees Australian TV crew in kidnap case
A TV crew held in a kidnapping case were released by Lebanese authorities and flying home Thursday amid reports of a multi-million dollar deal to drop abduction charges.
2 min read
21 April, 2016
Tara Brown and her crew were arrested for assisting the abduction of two children [Getty]

An Australian television crew accused of helping a mother kidnap her two children from their father in Lebanon were flying home Thursday amid reports of a multi-million dollar deal struck with him to drop abduction charges.

Brisbane mum Sally Faulkner and the Channel Nine team were arrested and charged last week with abducting Faulkner's young son and daughter on a Beirut street.

But they were released on bail Wednesday after the father, Ali al-Amin, decided not to pursue the charges.

Faulkner's lawyer Ghassan Mughabghab said a deal had been struck with Amin granting him full custody of the children in line with Lebanese law.

The Australian newspaper said "a multi-million dollar deal was struck to drop abduction charges".

"Nine pays dad to win freedom for crew and mum," Sydney's Daily Telegraph headlined, adding that "a massive sum of cash" had been paid in compensation.

The Sydney Morning Herald said several hundred thousand dollars would be paid, but that an exact figure could not be confirmed.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation quoted legal sources citing a similar amount.

Star reporter Tara Brown and her crew left on the earliest flight out of Beirut after their release from custody.

"The crew have touched down in Dubai and are expected to arrive in Sydney later this evening," Nine said.

However, Faulkner, the mother of the abducted children remains in Beirut for a custody hearing with her estranged husband.

The crew and Faulkner still face charges by Lebanon's public prosecutor, but they can be sentenced in absentia.

They were arrested April 7, a day after her children were snatched from their grandmother.

Faulkner has said that Amin, from whom she is divorced, took them for a holiday to Beirut and then allegedly refused to return them to Australia.

She had been working with a child recovery agency to bring back the children, and the TV crew was recording the operation.

Amin's lawyer Hussein Berjawi said Faulkner's bail had been set at one million Lebanese pounds (about $660).

However, Amin has not dropped his charges against two Britons and two Lebanese who allegedly helped in the abduction, Berjawi told AFP.

Agencies contributed to this report.