$500,000 paid for 60 Minutes freedom
Sunday Night revealed payment made to secure a Nine crew's freedom while others remained behind bars with rats.
Sunday Night‘s report on the 60 Minutes debacle in Lebanon revealed the $US500,000 cheque paid to Ali al-Amin’s lawyer.
Nine has never disclosed the “confidential” details of the settlement to secure the freedom of four of its employees.
But it left others behind in the move, including Australian Adam Whittington who headed up the operation through his Child Recovery Agency operation.
Last night he was highly critical of Nine who had paid him $115,000 to conduct the operation after it was commissioned by Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner.
“I’ve sat in a Lebanon prison, the most horrible place ever, spent four months nearly away from my kids. I missed my, my five-year-old’s birthday,” he told Sunday Night.
“As soon as they pulled out their chequebook everything went downhill.”
Whittington spent 104 days in a Beirut prison, frequently infested with rats and maggots, while the Nine crew were treated to pizzas and coffee, he claimed.
Mike Willesee’s report was sympathetic to Whittington, justified by Sally Faulkner’s desperate position and critical of Nine.
It suggested Nine News boss Darren Wick should have been sacked from Nine’s internal review, not producer Stephen Rice.
“They turned it into an absolute joke the way they acted and behaved in Beirut to get what they wanted,” he said.
“I’ve seen that review. I received a copy of it in the prison. It was passed around and used as toilet paper. That’s what we did with it.”
When asked how Australians would react to a foreign kidnapping taking place on Australian style, he said the actions were understandable in the context of a separated family.
“If they were in Sally shoes’….. why wouldn’t you try and get your children back?”
Whittington also told Willesee he was not being paid for the interview, but Nine contends that he has previously requested a substantial payment from Nine to not tell his story.
Last week producer Stephen Rice agreed to a settlement that averted further legal action against Nine following his dismissal.
Ironically Sunday Night executive producer Hamish Thomson knocked back the Sally Faulkner story when he was running Inside Story for Nine, before it was picked up by 60 Minutes.