1 Jul 2016

Australian mother charged with kidnapping in Lebanon

6:14 pm on 1 July 2016

Australian mother Sally Faulkner and former soldier Adam Whittington have been charged with kidnapping over the botched attempt to bring her children to Australia.

Australian TV presenter Tara Brown (back) and Sally Faulkner, an Australian woman accused of abducting her children from her ex husband, are released from prison on April 20, 2016

Sally Faulkner (front) and Australian TV presenter Tara Brown being released from prison in April. Photo: AFP

Mr Whittington's lawyer confirmed criminal conspiracy charges against the pair had also been dropped in a Lebanese court on Thursday afternoon (local time).

Ms Faulkner, 60 Minutes crew members, along with Mr Whittington and his associates, were accused of trying to forcibly take Ms Faulkner's children - who were living in Beirut with her estranged ex-partner Ali Elamine - and return them to Australia.

The 60 Minutes crew is to be charged with knowing about the crime and failing to report it, an offence punished by a fine.

Ms Faulkner and the 60 Minutes crew returned to Australia in April after Channel Nine reached a plea bargain to ensure the release of its staff, however, the recovery team was not included in the deal.

Ms Faulkner's mother, Karen, spoke to media outside her home today.

"It's very unfair that a woman has to go to these lengths to see and speak to her children and to hold her children, and be charged with kidnapping of her biological children she's given birth to," she said.

Ms Faulkner's lawyer was hopeful the kidnapping charge would be dismissed on appeal.

Mr Whittington's lawyer, Joe Karam, said an appeals court now had to approve or overturn the indictment.

"We are fully confident with the Lebanese criminal justice system that whenever it goes to a trial we will reach to the right appropriate decision, where they consider a kidnapping of a child by his mother is not a kidnapping," he said.

Channel Nine released details of an internal review into its handling of the matter, which resulted in the story's producer leaving his job immediately.

Journalist Tara Brown and the rest of the crew retained their positions.

In a statement, Channel Nine confirmed the charges against its staff had been downgraded.

"There will still be a trial on a date to be determined and out of respect for the Lebanese legal process we will not be making any further comment while the matter is still before the court," the statement read.

The charges will be reviewed by another judicial authority and can be appealed before going before a court.


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