THE MUM, THE TV CREW AND THE KIDNAPPING CASE
Brisbane mum Sally Faulkner and a Channel Nine TV crew made up of reporter Tara Brown, producer Stephen Rice, cameraman Ben Williamson and sound recordist David Ballment have walked from a Beirut jail after the child kidnapping and assault charges against them were dropped.
FREED, BUT COULD STILL FACE CHARGES
The 60 Minutes crew have already left Lebanon while Faulkner is still in the country for another day to farewell her children.
While the Australians are free to leave, they could still be ordered back to the country to face public prosecution charges of kidnapping and being members of a criminal gang if the state decides.
A deal was struck in court on Wednesday in which Faulkner gives up custody to gain release but her estranged husband Ali Elamine says she can see the children.
Elamine played down reports the Nine Network paid him compensation to drop the charges.
The Australians spent a fortnight in a Beirut jail after being arrested for a child abduction on April 6 local time.
The 60 Minutes crew was filming Faulkner’s attempt to recover her children Noah, three, and Lahela, five, from Elamine.
Faulkner has spent nine months trying to regain custody of her children, who were taken to Lebanon for a three-week holiday and not returned, she says.
A professional agency, Child Abduction Recovery International (CARI), was hired to snatch the children. Two of its members, Adam Whittington and Craig Michael, are still facing charges.
Security camera footage shows masked men jumping out of a car and snatching the kids from their grandmother and another woman on a Beirut street. The grandmother claims she was hit on the head with a pistol and suffered internal bleeding.
Faulkner faced kidnapping charges.
The 60 Minutes crew was accused of:
* hiding information
* forming an association with two or more people to commit a crime against a person
* kidnapping or holding a minor even with their approval
* physical assault.
The offences carry penalties of three to 10 years in jail.