Nine news boss flies to Beirut as 60 Minutes’ crew prepares to face Lebanese judge

Brown: detained in Lebanon

Brown: detained in Lebanon

Nine’s news and current affairs boss, Darren Wick, has flown to Beirut as a 60 Minutes’ crew prepares to face a judge over allegations it paid a child recovery agency to attempt to retrieve the children of Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner.

In recent days, the Nine Network has played down allegations it paid $120,000 to the agency, whose operators have been detained along with 60 Minutes’ Tara Brown, a camera man, a sound man and a producer, who were filming an operation in an international custody case in the Lebanese capital. Sally Faulkner, the mother of the children, was also detained.

“They are journalists covering a story. That is all,” said a Nine spokeswoman. “We are working with the Department of Foreign Affairs, they have local legal representation and we are doing everything possible to ensure their release and that we get them home as soon as possible.” 

It is understood that while no charges have been formally laid against Brown, Faulkner or the rest of the 60 Minutes’ crew they are all in Lebanese prisons at the moment and there will be an appearance before a Lebanese judge on Monday.

That appearance is expected to determine whether or not Lebanese authorities proceed with charges against them.

Brown and her film crew were detained by Lebanese police late last week while trying to film the operation in which Faulkner attempted to recover her two Australian children.

The police alleged they were involved in an attempt to kidnap two children and media reports have since suggested that Nine may have been involved in paying for the operation. Nine has declined to comment on the claims.

In a opening statement on last night’s 60 Minutes episode, host Michael Usher told viewers that Brown and crew members David Ballment, Stephen Rice and Ben Williamson, were being detained “a world away”.

“Everyone in the Nine News and 60 Minutes family is doing their utmost to support (them),” said Usher.

“It’s a stressful time for them and their families and the last thing our team wanted was to become the subject of their own story.

“For those working hard for their safe return, we earnestly thank you and we’ll keep you posted as events unfold.”

Nic Christensen 


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