Pacific

Lebanese judge says Australian mother, TV crew free to leave

  • A Lebanese policeman escorts Australian TV presenter Tara Brown, who is seen handcuffed, as she is taken from a Lebanese courthouse where she was questioned by an investigative judge over suspicion of taking part in an abduction attempt of two Lebanese-Australian children, in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday April, 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

    A Lebanese policeman escorts Australian TV presenter Tara Brown, who is seen handcuffed, as she is taken from a Lebanese courthouse where she was questioned by an investigative judge over suspicion of taking part in an abduction attempt of two Lebanese-Australian children, in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday April, 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)  (The Associated Press)

  • A man walks down the stairs of  the Lebanese courthouse where nine people were questioned by an investigative judge over suspicion of taking part in an abduction attempt of two Lebanese-Australian children, in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday April, 18, 2016. The Lebanese father of two children at the heart of a high-profile custody dispute says he will not drop the attempted kidnapping charges against his estranged Australian wife, who tried to take the children from him two weeks ago.  The Arabic sign reads, "Palace of Justice." (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

    A man walks down the stairs of the Lebanese courthouse where nine people were questioned by an investigative judge over suspicion of taking part in an abduction attempt of two Lebanese-Australian children, in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday April, 18, 2016. The Lebanese father of two children at the heart of a high-profile custody dispute says he will not drop the attempted kidnapping charges against his estranged Australian wife, who tried to take the children from him two weeks ago. The Arabic sign reads, "Palace of Justice." (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Lebanese plainclothes policeman prevents Australian TV presenter Tara Brown from looking towards journalist as she was taken from a Lebanese courthouse where she was questioned by an investigative judge over suspicion of taking part in an abduction attempt of two Lebanese-Australian children, in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday April, 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

    A Lebanese plainclothes policeman prevents Australian TV presenter Tara Brown from looking towards journalist as she was taken from a Lebanese courthouse where she was questioned by an investigative judge over suspicion of taking part in an abduction attempt of two Lebanese-Australian children, in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday April, 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)  (The Associated Press)

An Australian mother and TV crew caught up in a high-profile child custody battle and detained in Beirut amid a botched attempt to take the woman's two children from their Lebanese father are to be released on bail, a judge ordered Wednesday.

Ali al-Amin, the father of the two children, said he dropped attempted kidnapping charges against his estranged Australian wife Sally Faulkner and the Channel 9 TV crew, because he "didn't want the kids to think I was keeping their mother in jail."

Faulkner and the TV crew, led by prominent Australian TV journalist Tara Brown, are implicated in the operation to seize the two children from Al-Amin two weeks ago. Two Britons and two Lebanese have also been charged. All nine suspects in the case have been detained and jailed in Lebanon.

Al-Amin said he would keep the two children, aged 5 and 3, and raise them in Lebanon, as part of a deal he struck with Faulkner.

Investigative Judge Rami Abdullah said the state still has to review whether to drop public charges against the nine suspects, but that Faulkner and the camera crew would be free to leave Lebanon once they post bail.

"There is a crime that happened, and everyone has a role in the affair," said Abdullah.

The judge also said Faulkner and the TV crew will be expected to return to Lebanon to stand trial if the public charges are not dropped. He said his office will review the case. Last week, he said the nine suspects face up to 15 years in prison if tried and convicted of the charges.

The suspects also face charges filed by al-Amin's mother, who was struck and knocked to the ground during the incident two weeks ago. Al-Amin said she suffered a head injury but was recovering.

Faulkner has a three-month old child with another father, in Australia.