Sally Faulkner charged with 'kidnapping her own children' after botched 60 Minutes operation

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Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner has been charged with kidnapping following her alleged part in a child snatch operation in Lebanon, that a 60 Minutes crew tried to film.

Australian child recovery agent Adam Whittington was also charged along with Ms Faulkner, but the crew from the Nine Network had their charges reduced to the misdemeanour of failing to inform authorities of a criminal act.

The charge is likely to end with a fine for the network, Fairfax reports.

Brisbane mum Sally Faulkner and her two children. Photo: Facebook
Brisbane mum Sally Faulkner and her two children. Photo: Facebook

Mr Whittington's lawyer said the judge dropped a more serious criminal gangs charge, but the Australian man was formally indicted along with accomplice, Craig Michael.

Both men and a Lebanese fixer who aided in the operation were charged with kidnapping while another Lebanese man was charged with assault for his part in he job.

Ms Faulkner was reportedly shocked by news of the charges but has provided no further comment.

Ms Faulkner has vowed to continue her fight for her two children. Photo: New Idea
Ms Faulkner has vowed to continue her fight for her two children. Photo: New Idea


The kidnapping charge comes as a surprise as Judge Rami Abdullah had stated previously he didn't think a mother could be considered to have kidnapped her own children.

Ms Faulkner is unlikely to return to Lebanon, having spent two weeks in prison there in April when the operation to snatch her two children from her estranged husband failed.

The botched operation landed four members of the 60 Minutes crew in prison along with Mr Whittington.

Noah and Lahela al-Amin with their father Ali Elamine, Photo: Reuters
Noah and Lahela al-Amin with their father Ali Elamine, Photo: Reuters

It is believed the mother and TV crew were released after the Nine Network paid a large settlement to Ms Faulkner's estranged husband Ali Elamine.

The sum is said to be somewhere in the vicinity of $500,000, according to Fairfax, but Mr Elamine denies any payments were made.

Part of Ms Faulkner's deal for freedom included relinquishing custody of her children to Mr Elamine, granted by Australia's courts.

Tara Brown being led by police while she was held in custody.
Tara Brown being led by police while she was held in custody.

Whittington's lawyer, Joe Karam said the judge accepted that the Nine Network financed and directed the operation – a fact confirmed by the network's own internal review.

Nine had earlier insisted Mr Whittington was paid for his role in the operation by mistake.

Spokesperson for Nine said the network still expected the matter to come to trial, despite the lesser charge being applied.

"We have been advised tonight by our legal team in Lebanon that the charges our 60 Minutes crew are facing in Lebanon have been downgraded," a spokeswoman said.

"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."

Mr Whittington remains in prison in Beirut.

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