The 60 Minutes crew facing kidnapping charges in Lebanon have been remanded in custody to reappear before a judge on Monday.
Reporter Tara Brown appeared first before Judge Rami Abdullah, handcuffed and escorted by security officials. She was soon followed by Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner and later producer Stephen Rice, cameraman Ben Williamson and sound recordist David Ballment, three local men and two Britons: Adam Whittington and Craig Michael – members of the ‘child recovery agency.’
They face charges of kidnapping, harm and disrespect for authorities over the failed attempt to snatch Ms Faulkner’s children, who had been living with their father in Beirut. If found guilty they could face up to 20 years in jail.
Nine News boss Darren Wick also attended to support his team, but declined to comment.
Journalists were forced to delete all photos and videos on their devices before being led into the court room.
In an encouraging sign, the judge ordered Ms Faulkner to reach an agreement with her estranged husband and father of their two children Ali Elamine.
But he also stated “There is no chance the charges will be dropped. It is a violation of the Lebanese law by all of these people.”
From her Lebanese cell, Tara Brown said, “Quite genuinely we are being treated well by the standards here, it’s fine, it’s not crowded.
“It really is quite hard to gauge at the moment what is happening so we are going through a process, we’ll see.”
The Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying it did now want the incident to affect the relationship between the two countries.
Foreign Minister Mr Bassil said he had given instructions to form a joint Lebanese-Australian committee to resolve the custody case of the two children.
“Australians should respect Lebanese laws and the Lebanese should respect Australian laws,” he said.