Kidnap charges filed against 60 Minutes crew


A 60 Minutes crew, including reporter Tara Brown, will face kidnapping charges in Lebanon after appearing in court in Beirut.

Brown, senior producer Stephen Rice, cameraman Ben Williamson and sound recordist David Ballment are facing four separate charges, including kidnapping, causing harm and not respecting local authority.

Also appearing in court were Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner and men from British-based Child Abduction Recovery International, including former Scotland Yard detective Adam Whittington. Brown was handcuffed and held by a female military guard.

All appeared individually and before Judge Rami Abdullah, and asked if they wanted legal representation. All declared they wanted a lawyer.

Sally Faulkner spent longer with the judge before emerging red-faced and teary. It’s not clear if she is facing charges.

The Australians are expected to defend the charges in coming days.

Lebanese authorities have also claimed to be in possession of footage of the botched kidnapping, which shows the face of a Channel Nine cameraman -but this is unconfirmed.

Passport images for the Nine crew have now been circulated and published online.

Nine released a brief statement confirming the charges but without further comment.

The crew are said to be in good health and are likely to be granted bail. Nine News boss Darren Wick is on the ground, working with a legal team.

Yesterday Nine advised it was in Lebanon to film Ms. Faulkner after she was reunited with her children. It urged caution in reporting and indicated it was co-operating fully with Lebanese authorities.

There are suggestions Nine has also launched an internal inquiry into the involvement of 60 Minutes in the ordeal.

“Australian consular staff in Beirut are continuing to provide ongoing consular assistance,” a DFAT spokesperson said.

“The Foreign Minister has maintained discussions with her counterpart minister [Gebran] Bassil regarding this case”.

Kidnapping charges carry sentences between three years and life.

Source: News, Fairfax, ABC


  1. spectrum warrior

    In the old days Kerry Packer would of flown in, bought the country, got everyone out, and bought a Baalbek for his trip home. I miss the old guy. Hope the crew are treated well.

  2. Tara Brown and team are nothing more than the hired talent and were doing the job their employer told them to do. As stupid as they were to follow these orders calling for life imprisonment is reactive at best. 9 were creating news instead of reporting on it and should pay the price dearly (journalism this is not) but that price should be paid by those who gave the orders. Their hunt for sensationalism may yet cost them dearly.

    • I’m guessing that nobody held a gun to the heads of Tara Brown, her producer and her team, and suggested they’d be fired if they didn’t follow orders. They have as much responsibility has anyone else legally and ethically.

  3. As much as I feel for their families and also the mother, who mind you channel 9 should supply her with the same legal representation, the risks were there and they should of been aware of it. My hope out of all this is that if they are sentenced and the sentence is heavy then it might make the networks here think twice about the type of stunts they do in the form on journalism.

  4. lol they are now the news its what they wanted,but it has backfired why haven’t someone in Australia taken responsibility because someone here at Nine approved this screw up!!

  5. Surely channel 9 should have done their home work on this story before sending anyone to Lebanon, as everyone else is saying you cant go into another country and commit a crime which from most aspects this is what they seem to have done without suffering the consequences but will have to wait and see what the true story is, but once it is all over channel 9 will milk this story to death although at the moment they are saying very little, but really think channel 9 should not put their reporters life in Jeopardy just for ratings. What happened to the great channel it once was that now seems to be anything but.

    • Nine were going to argue that they were only there and only paid Mrs Faulkner for the story and had nothing to do with kidnapping, and would have been out of the country before it was investigated.

      However the “rescue” team were incompetent. Nine would not pay for alternative extraction because that would definitely be conspiracy to kidnap. Now everybody has been arrested and they will have to make that argument in court.

      • If the fee they paid for the story is roughly the fee the mother paid to the extraction team, then it’s “game, set and match”. But really, is anyone surprised to find a Nine Network current affairs team embroiled in a cheque-book journalism fiasco? Sixty Minutes and A Current Affair both have a reputation for ethically questionable practices. If they’ve been more than a bit careless in this instance, then one can only wonder how free they’ve been with their cheque books in the past? Just how often do they create the story before they report on it?

  6. Sounds like it might be time for Nine to reign in the oft-trumpeted “independence” of 60 Minutes and take a more pro-active approach to the show’s proposed stories in future.

  7. As Paul Barry said on media watch on Monday. Imagine the reaction if a Lebanese parent and TV crew tried to snatch children off a Sydney or Melbourne street. There were a lot of people involved in this, who by the sounds of things, really should have known better.

    • Exactly right, the Australian media would have demanded blood if this was reversed. TV shows have no right to be interfering in these sorts of matters. I do feel for the sound and camera people who were only there because their job warrants it. Tara, the producer and Darren Wick should be taking the brunt of responsibility here.

  8. I’d like to hear from the cameraman and sound guy. If it turns out their only wrongdoing was to assume their employers would fulfil their basic duties of care then I do have sympathy for them. Whoever the ringleader at 9 turns out to be should get the maximum penalty.

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