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Lebanese Judge Tells Australian Mother to Accept Custody Deal in ‘Kidnap’ Case

2 minute read

A lawyer representing Australian mother Sally Faulkner — whose botched attempt to retrieve her children have got her, an Australian 60 Minutes television crew and several others locked up in Beirut — says his client has been offered an agonizing choice.

Australia’s News Corp. cited the lawyer as saying that the judge in the case is pressuring Faulkner to strike a deal with her Lebanese ex-husband that would give her visitation rights but leave the kids in his custody in Beirut.

The deal would apparently secure her release, but reports suggest the others arrested alongside her would not have the cases against them dropped.

Tara Brown, a reporter for the Australian version of 60 Minutes, which airs on Channel Nine, is currently detained alongside her producer, cameraman and sound recordist, as well as two local Lebanese and two employees of a British firm specializing in recovering children taken overseas in cases of disputed custody.

The television crew was following the mother’s battle to recover her two children from their father, Ali al-Amin, who Faulkner says took them to Lebanon without her permission. The recovery mission culminated in a dramatic grab and run on a Beirut street, captured on surveillance cameras, as the children’s grandmother and a helper were about to get into a car with the children.

Earlier reports said those detained had been formally charged, but Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that charges had only so far been recommended by prosecutors, which would prompt an investigation under Lebanon’s French-derived legal system.

The suggested charges are said to include hiding information, planning and executing a kidnapping, and assault against the grandmother, with possible prison sentences of as long as 20 years.

[News Corp, ABC]

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Write to Simon Lewis at simon_daniel.lewis@timeasia.com