Nine’s Tara Brown and a 60 Minutes crew have been detained in Beirut whilst filming a story on a family at the centre of a custody tug of war.
Fairfax Media reports two Australian children, aged 2 and 5, were taken to Lebanon for a holiday by their father. But the father did not return the children to their mother in Australia as promised.
60 Minutes was reportedly with the mother during a recovery operation, involving a European-based agency. But after the children’s mother and the children escaped to a safe house, Beirut police located the crew and the employees of the recovery agency and local security and sought to interview them. The mother and her children are said to have avoided interception by police.
A Nine spokesperson said, “We can confirm a crew from 60 Minutes has been detained in Beirut. 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.”
The incident again highlights the dangers of filming volatile stories in foreign territories. Earlier this year a 60 Minutes crew was attacked whilst filming a story in Stockholm, Sweden and a Four Corners crew was detained in Malaysia last month after quizzing Prime Minister Najib Razak about a corruption scandal.
UPDATED: Local Lebanese media reported the recovery agents fixers were “gunmen” and that there had been an altercation involving a grandmother when the children were snatched at a bus stop. These claims have been denied by 60 Minutes, which was not involved in arranging the operation.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop confirmed that DFAT is seeking to confirm the whereabouts and welfare of the crew and have offered the consular assistance.