Ali el-Amien with he and Sally Faulkner’s children, Noah, four, and Lahela, five. Both children have been returned to Mr el-Amien in Lebanon after Ms Faulker was arrested for allegedly attempting to kidnap them
Australian mother Sally Faulkner, detained with a 60 Minutes TV crew in Lebanon after a botched child snatch attempt, has a three-month-old baby at home in Brisbane, it has been reported.
The information comes after Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said her department was trying to confirm the ‘alleged involvement’ of the TV crew, Fairfax reported.
On Saturday she said that there was a compassionate element to the case because it involves children.
Yesterday: Lebanese authorities reportedly have evidence that Channel Nine paid for the abduction of two children, who were snatched off the street in Beirut in a botched child recovery operation.
The authorities say they have a signed statement from a member of the ‘recovery team’ who says Channel Nine paid $115,000 for the operation, reported the ABC.
However, the evidence and signed statement is unconfirmed.
The children’s mother, Australian woman Sally Faulkner, was arrested by Lebanese police for allegedly kidnapping her two children along with a Nine Network TV crew, who are all behind bars.
The children’s father, Ali el-Amien said he was ‘disappointed’ by the recovery attempt, but has reiterated he won’t be pushing for charges against Ms Faulkner.
‘I told her that I’m not going to file anything. She is the mother of my children,’ Mr el Amien told The Guardian.
‘I wasn’t angry. I was disappointed. You could have just showed up and said you wanted to see the kids. She knows that.’
Mr el-Amien also said he had access to his ex-wife’s emails and knew that a recovery operation was being planned. It is unknown what charges Ms Faulkner may face from Lebanese authorities. The ABC reported that the area where the two children were grabbed is monitored by Hezbollah and Amal, two powerful Lebanese political and militia organisations.
Mr el-Amien’s father’s family is al reportedly politically connected.
Sally Faulkner, from Brisbane, hired a controversial child recovery agency to snatch her children – Lahlea, 5, and Noah, 2 – back from their fathe
Ms Faulkner said she agreed for her ex-husband Ali el-Amien to take the children to Lebanon for a holiday last year but a day after they left he told her that Noah and Lahlea would not be returning
The mother has previously said she did not know about her ex-husband’s intention to take her children
The children have both since been reunited with their father, who says he is ‘disappointed’ by the recovery attempt
Ms Faulkner was arrested in Lebanon along with members of a 60 Minutes crew after attempting to kidnap her children
Footage release by Channel Nine after journalist Tara Brown and her crew were detained in Lebanon while filming a story about the recovery shows a scuffle break out in a busy street of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut
The two children were snatched by a child recovery team while they were waiting with their grandmother at a bus stop, according to local police and media outlets.
Ms Faulkner claims her ex-husband took their children to Beirut on a holiday and then refused to bring them back home to Australia.
A Channel Nine 60 Minutes TV crew, including senior journalist Tara Brown, a producer and a cameraman, is also being detained over its alleged role in the kidnapping.
Ali el-Amien told the ABC the alleged kidnapping was reckless and dangerous move.
‘What if someone armed passed by and saw the scene and started to fire? We are in Lebanon here. If they started to shoot, they could have hit one of the children. They could have shot my mother,’ he said.
Once Lahela and Noah went to Beirut, Mr el-Amien told Ms Faulkner she would never see her children again
Before the controversial snatch and grab operation, Ms Faulkner hadn’t seen her children for more than ten months
‘I want to come back,’ Lahela could be heard saying as she sobbed to her mother
Ms Faulkner said Lahela feels isolated and she now lives with family members like her grandmother who only speaks Arabic, and no English
He said the family, including Ms Faulkner, had lived in the country until 2013, when she decide it was no longer safe and left for Australia.
‘When all the bombings took place, she wanted to go and visit her parents. She arrived there and tore up the children’s passports.’
He claimed she told him when he wanted to see the children, to come to Australia.
Despite trying to live in Australia, neither had work there, and their income came from Lebanon, he told the ABC. Australian consular officials visited the four Australians, who are in good health, in prison on Thursday night. Nine Network said on Friday they had also been visited by a lawyer.
‘They are being held in a police station in Beirut and been visited by DFAT officers and are in good health,’ a spokeswoman told AAP.
Nine Network director of communications and public relations Victoria Buchan, said while the crew were being detained they hadn’t been arrested. Nine was working with the Australian consulate to get them out of prison.
Ms Faulkner told A Current Affair last year that she would do ‘anything’ to get her children back
It has been reported that some of the same crew members with Brown (pictured) were set upon by thugs while reporting on the European refugee crisis with fellow reporter Liz Hayes in Sweden last month
Brown and her crew had travelled to Lebanon to cover Ms Faulkner’s attempts to bring back her children – Lahela, 5, and Noah, 4 – using a controversial international child recovery agency.
Dramatic security camera footage broadcast on Lebanese TV and on the Nine Network appear to show the children being bundled into a car by several people on a busy street in southern Beirut.
Two women, believed to be Noah and Lahlea’s grandmother and nanny, can be seen standing in the street with two small children when a commotion ensues. A flurry of people jump out of a large parked car and approach the children. They pick them up and shove bystanders out of the way as they rush back to the car to stuff them in the back seat. The person left behind on the street makes an attempt to chase after the car.
In Skype call, both Ms Faulkner’s children can be heard begging to be returned to their mother’s side
Her brother Noah said he wanted to return to Australia but that his father had dodged his pleas
The children’s grandmother claims she was hit on the head with a pistol.
‘It’s their mum that kidnapped them, and that’s what we know. She contacted me and told me she has the kids,’ their father, Ali Zeid al-Amien, said soon after the incident.
Later, the children were returned to their father.
A British citizen from the child recovery agency involved has been detained on suspicion he planned to smuggle the children out of Lebanon on a boat, according to police.
Officers also seized an expensive boat they believe was intended for the job.
Lebanon, unlike Australia, is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which allows for children normally resident in one location to be returned if taken by a relative.
Footage has been release of the moment the child recovery agency tried to retrieve the children from their father in Lebanon.
‘Lahela is not coming back, Sally. She’s staying here with me. Alright? Lehla and Noah,’ Mr el-Amien said on a Skype call
The separation was amicable and Ms Faulkner said she trusted her ex-husband before he left with the kids
Ms Faulkner reportedly told Mr el-Amien she’d been reunited with the children. Before the children were returned to their father they were allegedly pursued by local police who put a border alert out for the mother and both children in an attempt to stop them leaving the country, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Ms Faulkner said she did not know about her ex-husband’s intention to take her children and agreed for them to travel to his native Lebanon for a holiday. A day after Lahela, then five years old and two-year-old Noah went to Beirut , Mr-el Amien allegedly told Ms Faulkner she would never see her children again.
‘This is what’s going to happen. Lahela is not coming back, Sally. She’s staying here with me,’ Mr el-Amien said on a Skype call.
‘Alright? Lahela and Noah,’ he added.
In another Skype call obtained by Channel Nine, both Ms Faulkner’s children can be heard begging to be returned to their mother’s side.
‘I want to come back,’ Lahela sobbed to her mother.
In a tearful interview last October, Ms Faulkner told Daily Mail Australia ‘It’s literally like a living hell’Both children were born in Australia and Ms Faulkner let them travel to Lebanon with their father because she had no reason to suspect they would not come back from the holiday
Ms Faulkner said that while her relationship ended on bad terms, she had never tried to keep the children from their father and had no idea why he would do that to her
Tara Brown (above) , 60 Minutes producer Stephen Rice and sound operator David Ballment are believed to have been detained by Lebanese police
Her brother Noah also said he wanted to return to Australia but that his father had dodged his pleas. ‘I want to come back. Daddy won’t bring me back,’ the young boy said.
‘He just away says ‘I’ll see’ but I really miss you. I don’t want you to get sad,’ he added.
Ms Faulkner said Lahela feels isolated now that she lives with family members who don’t speak English.
‘Everyday I talk to [Lahela] I hear such sadness and she tells me that’s she’s lonely because her grandma speaks Arabic… She hasn’t learnt it, he didn’t teach them that,’ she told A Current Affair.
She said that while her marriage ended on bad terms, she had never tried to keep the children from their father and had no idea why he would do that to her.
Ms Faulkner told A Current Affair she would do ‘anything’ to get her children back.
In a tearful interview last October, Ms Faulkner told Daily Mail Australia: ‘It’s literally like a living hell’. Ms Faulkner said she called and emailed Mr el-Amien daily and had attempted to take legal action. As her money and resources dwindled, Ms Faulkner asked for the Australian government to step in and also she petitioned for Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop to help bring her children home.
But when the government ‘did nothing’ to help her, Ms Faulkner is believed to have contacted 60 Minutes who offered to pay for the recovery operation in return for filming it as a story.
Brown, 60 Minutes producer Stephen Rice, cameraman Ben Williamson and sound operator David Ballment have been detained by Lebanese police. Channel Nine has confirmed the group are being held in a local police station and that they are speaking with the Australian embassy about the terms of their release. A Nine spokesman said they were working with police to have their crew released.
‘We can confirm a crew from 60 Minutes has been detained in Beirut,’ he said.
‘We won’t be giving out any more details, other than to say we are working with authorities to get them released and back home ASAP.’
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said she had been in contact with Channel Nine about its crew being detained in Lebanon.
‘We are urgently seeking to confirm the crew’s whereabouts and welfare, and have offered all appropriate consular assistance,’ she said in an email statement.
Brown and her crew are understood to have been in a car with Ms Faulkner while the two children were snatched from their paternal grandmother
The children’s grandmother told local media outlets she and the nanny had been struck by the men as they tore the children from their arms
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