Middle East

TV news crew, mother detained in alleged kidnapping attempt in Lebanon

A TV news crew based in Australia was detained in Lebanon along with a mom accused of trying to kidnap her two children, Australian media reported Sunday.

Police arrested Sally Faulkner and a reporting crew from Australia's Nine News network after Faulkner tried and failed to take her five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son from her Lebanese ex-husband in Beirut on Thursday, a judicial official told the Associated Press. Faulkner said her ex-husband moved the children to Lebanon without her permission.

Faulkner claims her ex, Ali Elamine, is illegally holding custody of their two children, Lahela and Noah.

The official said kidnapping charges are expected to be filed against Faulkner and at least three others with alleged involvement in the attempt. Journalist Tara Brown, cameraman Ben Williamson and sound technician David Ballment have been detained in addition to Faulkner.

The Nine News crew accompanied Faulkner to record her attempt to return her children to Australia using a controversial child recovery agency, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The Australian Foreign Affairs Ministry has been trying to determine exactly how the TV crew was involved in the mother's plans, Minister Julie Bishop said.

“We are providing as much support as we can, meeting with officials within the Lebanese government and doing what we can to ascertain what is proposed, in relation to the [TV] crew and the alleged involvement of the crew in this case,” Bishop said.

Faulkner and representatives from the child recovery agency were arrested after the group seized the children from Elamine’s father at a bus stop in Beirut.

It was not immediately known how and when the news crew was detained.

"I cannot understate the seriousness with which the Lebanese authorities are viewing the case but we're doing all we can to maintain contact with all of the parties involved," Bishop said, according to Reuters.

Faulkner left her new husband, Brendan Pierce, and their infant child in Australia when she departed for Lebanon.

A hearing for the crew has been postponed, according to News.com.au. The suspects reportedly will be able to apply for bail in the coming days.

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