Map of Lebanon
Map of Lebanon

Authorities in Lebanon detained an Australian television crew for allegedly assisting an Australian mother in abducting her children from their father, a Lebanese national.

The television crew was identified as members of the 60 Minutes news team from Australia’s Nine Network, the network confirmed in a statement.  They were filming the mother as she attempted to recover her children from their father.

In a statement, Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces said they detained the mother and took her two children into custody Thursday.  The television crew was taken into custody earlier in the day.

The Australian mother, Sally Faulker, hired an international retrieval agency to bring the children back to Australia after she said their father brought them to Lebanon last year for vacation and never returned them.

The two children disappeared Wednesday while they waited for their school bus.  

A low-quality security camera video of the incident shows several large men emerge from a parked car and grab two young children, believed to be Faulkner’s four-year-old son and six-year-old daughter as they walk with two women.  The car then speeds away as one of the women falls to the ground and the other briefly gives chase on foot before walking back to aid the fallen woman.

Local news agencies report the two women are the children’s paternal grandmother and nanny.

“The kidnappers ran away after having hit the grandma and snatched the two children,” Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reports.  “Forces started their investigations into the kidnapping, with family reasons looming in the background.”

According to the statement from Nine Network, the news agency was doing everything in its power to secure the release of the crew.

"We are working with authorities to get them released and home as soon as possible," the company said.

The Nine Network said it lost contact with the news crew for about 15 hours, but the station found out later the crew had been detained at a Beirut police station and was in contact with the Australian consular office.

“It is a relief to know that Australian officials are about to speak to them,” a network spokesman said on Nine Network’s evening news.  “The crew knew that this was a risk, going to do the story.”

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