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Abduction Charges Dropped for Australian Mother and TV Crew in Lebanon

Lebanese father Ali al-Amin speaks to journalists after dropping charges against his estranged wife and an Australian TV crew for attempting to kidnap their children, in front of the courthouse, in the Beirut southeastern suburb of Baabda, Lebanon, Wednes

An Australian television crew and mother accused of abducting her two children were released from jail in Lebanon Thursday after the children’s father agreed to drop charges against the group.

Sally Faulkner, an Australian national, and the four-person television crew were arrested and charged with abduction earlier this month after Faulkner allegedly hired a team of retrieval agents to kidnap her two children from their father, with whom they had been staying.

A Lebanese court charged nine people with kidnapping the children. Faulkner and the news team were among those arrested, along with two employees of the U.K.-based organization Child Abduction Recovery International (CARI) and two Lebanese men.

Faulkner claims the children's father took them to Lebanon last year without permission and never returned them to Australia. The television crew was identified as members of a news team from Australia's Nine Network who accompanied Faulkner to highlight the issue of cross-border custody disputes.

Ali al-Amin, the children’s father, said he dropped the charges because he “didn’t want the kids to think I was keeping their mother in jail.”

As part of the deal, Faulkner agreed to surrender any claims of custody over the children, who will live with their father in Lebanon. The Sydney Daily Telegraph reported that a “multi-million dollar deal was struck” between the Nine network and al-Amin, but lawyers and the judge involved in the case did not comment about any compensation.

Faulkner was released into the custody of the Australian Embassy and is expected to leave the country Thursday. The television crew has already returned to Australia.