60 Minutes Beirut snatch: Elamine shuts off Faulkner kids


July 11, 2016

Source: theaustralian.com.au

Sally Faulkner’s estranged Lebanese husband has blocked the Brisbane mother’s internet and phone access to their children, deepening her anguish after she was charged over a bungled bid to snatch them.

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Ali Elamine also turned away Australian embassy staff when they tried recently to check on Lahela, 6, and Noah, 4, in Beirut.

“He basically slammed the door when the people from the embassy went to see him,” Ms Faulkner’s mother Karen Buckley said. “He won’t allow anyone to have contact with the children.”

Ms Buckley said Mr Elamine had shut down the children’s Facebook access and blocked their mother’s attempts to reach them through Skype, WhatsApp or by phone.

He had also refused to share updated photographs of them.

To compound Ms Faulkner’s distress, she has been notified she will face criminal prosecution in Lebanon for kidnap, along with the team led by Australian “child recovery” agent Adam Whittington that seized the children on April 7 in an ­operation funded by the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes.

Ms Buckley said her daughter had not decided whether she would voluntarily return to Lebanon to face court, though this was unlikely.

Ms Faulkner has told The Australian she hoped the charge would be downgraded from kidnap, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years’ jail in Lebanon. “I know what I did and I know why I did it, because I ­literally had no choice legally,” she said last week. “So you can’t live your life with regrets.”

Ms Buckley said the family was holding up, but the situation was trying when there was no news of the children.

She said the family was dismayed by recent photographs of Mr Elamine partying in Dubai.

Ms Faulkner, 29, was re­united with her children briefly ­before the Lebanese authorities swooped, arresting her as well as Mr Whittington and his team and the 60 Minutes crew, who filmed the grab on a south ­Beirut street.

Mr Elamine dropped civil charges against the program after the Nine Network stumped up a cash settlement, reportedly of $500,000.

Under the deal, Ms Faulkner relinquished custody rights to the children in Lebanon, even though she had a ruling in her favour from the Family Court in Australia.

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Nine Network’s botched child abduction story in Lebanon


June 30, 2016

Source: The Australian

The costs of the Nine Network’s disastrous child abduction story in Lebanon continue to escalate, with the network transferring more than $500,000 to its Lebanese legal team last week.

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With jailed child recovery agent Adam Whittington and his team of three fixers due back in court as early as today, The Australian has obtained fresh detail about the skyrocketing costs ­associated with the botched operation. It is understood Nine transferred $US400,000 to its Lebanese lawyers on June 24.

The transfer, coupled with earlier payments, put the network’s costs well over $US2 million in legal fees alone.

The payments, which Nine has been at pains to say have been to cover the network’s legal fees, and not to bribe officials, came as the Lebanese judge presiding over the case was expected to make a decision on whether to press ahead with criminal charges against the Nine crew, who were arrested over the failed ­abduction of Lahela and Noah Faulkner, children of Brisbane woman Sally Faulkner.

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Nine’s reporter Tara Brown, cameraman Ben Williamson, sound recordist David Bailment and producer Stephen Rice, as well as Ms Faulkner, have been on bail since April 22 when the father of the children, Ali Elamine, dropped his personal charges after Nine paid $US500,000. Since then there has been great uncertainty about the fate of Mr Whittington and his crew who, unlike Ms Faulkner, a jilted mother, command no public sympathy in Lebanon.

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60 Minutes reporter Tara Brown, film crew detained in Lebanon filming child recovery operation


April 7, 2016

Source: smh.com.au

60 Minutes reporter Tara Brown and a film crew have been detained by Lebanese police after trying to film the recovery of two Australian children who had been taken to Beirut by their Lebanese father.

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Brown, veteran producer Steven Rice and a cameraman were reporting on an operation to recover the two children of Brisbane woman Sally Faulkner from her former husband Ali Elamine.

The children, Lahala, 5, and Noah, 2, were taken to Lebanon for a holiday by Mr Elamine who runs a Beirut surf business.

Despite promising the holiday would last for only a short period of time Mr Elamine is alleged to have refused to return the children to Australia.

Ms Faulkner then made a number of appeals for public funding to try to recover the children from Beirut including an approach to the Foreign Affairs Department.

Ms Faulkner had travelled to Lebanon to meet up with Tara Brown and her crew for the ‘recovery’ by UK-based agency Child Abduction Recovery International (CARI).

Fairfax Media understands the 60 Minutes crew were in Beirut with Ms Faulkner to film a private operation involving an international child-recovery agency trying to snatch the children from the father.

But after Ms Faulkner and the children escaped to a safe house, Beirut police located the 60 Minutes crew and employees of the recovery agency and local security, and sought to interview them.

On Thursday morning, Beirut media have reported the incident as a kidnapping involving the children being snatched at a bus stop while they waited with their grandmother.

Reports said four men driving a silver Hyundai had grabbed the children.

Fairfax Media understands a car and a boat, which were to have been used in the recovery operation, have been seized by police, and local fixers were also involved in the operation.

Ms Faulkner and the children are thought to have avoided interception by police but their whereabouts are unknown.

60 Minutes, on Thursday morning, confirmed it understood Brown and the crew were detained in Lebanon while reporting on a story.

Executive producer Kirsty Thompson said 60 Minutes was working with authorities to resolve the situation.

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