By PHILIP ISSA, AP
A state prosecutor in Lebanon is expected to file kidnapping charges against an Australian woman, an Australian TV crew, and others Monday for attempting to take the woman’s two children away from her Lebanese ex-husband and bring them back to Australia.
Sally Faulkner, along with four Australians, two Britons, and two Lebanese, was brought into police custody last Thursday after a botched attempt was made to snatch Faulkner’s five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son from their paternal grandmother as she took them to school in Beirut.
Faulkner said her ex-husband, Ali Al-Amin, moved the children to Lebanon without her permission.
The detainees include prominent Australian TV presenter Tara Brown and her crew from Channel Nine TV. A reporter from the station said in an interview broadcast Thursday that the crew was there to cover the story for 60 Minutes.
Michael Brown said it was a “risky operation, a risky story — this desperate Australian mum trying to get her two children home,” but said the crew was prepared for the difficulties.
A judicial official, speaking on the condition of anonymity Monday because he was not authorized to speak publicly, quoted state prosecutor Claude Karam as saying: “Their files will be studied in preparation of charging them in the case regarding the kidnapping of two underage children, in contravention to Lebanese law.”
The children’s grandmother, Ibtisam Berri, said she and a domestic worker were taking the children to school last Wednesday when two men jumped out of a parked car and took the children away. She said a cameraman was filming the scene from the car.
At least one of the Britons is being held on suspicion that he planned to smuggle the children out of Lebanon on his boat, docked in a private Beirut hotel, police officials said.
The authorities returned the children to Al-Amin, who told a local TV station that he would not sue his former wife. “She is the mother of my children … if I were her I would have done the same,” he told LBC last Thursday.
He told Al Jadeed TV that Faulkner and Australian security agencies knew he was leaving Australia with the children and denied kidnapping them from their mother.