Families of detained 60 Minutes crew say they are in a ‘living nightmare’

Brown facing kidnapping charges in Lebanon.

Brown facing kidnapping charges in Lebanon.

The families of the 60 Minutes crew under arrest in Lebanon after a failed “kidnap” attempt have described the anguish they are suffering as doubt continues to swirl around their fate.

A joint statement from Cara Williamson, Denise Rice, John McAvoy and Laura Battistel, the relatives of Tara Brown, David “Tangles” Ballment, Stephen Rice and Ben Williamson, said the situation was a “nightmare”.

“This is a living nightmare. It’s hard to imagine it could be any tougher,” the statement said.

“From what we know, they are in good health, keeping their spirits up and are being well looked after by the Lebanese authorities. You can’t imagine how comforting it is to know that.  That is all that is getting us through at the moment.”

They said that despite the blanket local media coverage about the situation in Lebanon, some of the familes had not even told their children.

“Some of us haven’t even told our children what’s happening yet. It’s not an easy conversation to have with a five or seven year old who ask as they go to sleep each night when mummy or daddy is coming home. Understandably we are all anxious and worried sick.”

They have also refuted reports that Nine was not keeping them up to date with the developments.

“But this notion that we are somehow being kept in the dark or not receiving regular updates is beyond absurd. The updates are daily. And hugely valued. Nine is sharing whatever it knows as they hear about it. It is a day by day proposition, complicated by the fact that there is so little to go on and of course none of us are familiar with the Lebanese legal system.”

And they highlighted that the team were professionals going about covering an important story.

“People forget that Tara, Stephen, Ben and Tangles were there doing a job; covering a story. As it turns out, a very important story. It’s what they do. It’s what they have been doing brilliantly for years. Obviously, this time, something went wrong. But if we have one message it’s that people who have been so quick to judge should at least wait until all the facts are known. We haven’t spoken to our partners since before they were arrested. Very few of the facts are clear at this stage. If we don’t have all the facts, how can anyone else? The analysis can come later.  Right now, the only priority is getting them all home.”

Nine’s News boss, Darren Wick, remains in Lebanon working with Australian authorities to secure the release of the 60 Minutes team, while reports today suggested that mediation between the parents children, taken by their father, on holiday from Australia, sparking the 60 Minutes “rescue” attempt, have broken down.

Nine CEO Hugh Marks has told the network’s staff that questions how the attempt to remove the children from Lebanon would be answered once the journalists were released and safe again.

Simon Canning 



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