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Australian mother and TV crew charged in Lebanon abduction case

Mother and nine others could face up to 20 years in prison as TV channel denies claims it paid recovery agency to help her get her children back
Sally Faulkner made an emotional appeal last year to try and get her children back from Lebanon (AFP)

An Australian mother and TV crew have been charged with kidnapping by a Lebanese court, media reports said on Tuesday.

According to the reports, seven foreign nationals – including two Britons and several Australians - as well as two Lebanese nationals are now set to face charges including attempted kidnapping and “taking part in the crime," the local NNA agency reported. If proven guilty, those charged could face up to 20 years in prison.

A judicial source told AFP that the nine would now be interrogated.

The controversy emerged a few days ago after four members of the crew were arrested for allegedly aiding in the kidnapping of two half-Lebanese half-Australian children, a boy aged four and his sister aged six.

The children’s mother Sally Faulkner claims that their father Ali al-Amin took them to Lebanon without permission and then refused to return then.

Faulkner then appears to have flown to Lebanon where she was working with a child recovery agency to bring back the children. The "60 Minutes" crew was recording the operation.

Claims surfaced that the Nine Network paid $120,000 to a child recovery agency to try and get the children back but the network has denied this.

She just wants her kids home for Christmas. Sally's plea to Julie Bishop MP: change.org/taken

Posted by Change.org on Friday, November 20, 2015

A grainy video of the incident released by Lebanon's Al-Jadeed television showed the children walking with an elderly person, reportedly their grandmother, before several figures jump out of a nearby car and carry the children into the vehicle, which then speeds off.

The television crew was arrested on Thursday morning, and Faulkner was later found with the two children in a home in Beirut. It was reported that workers from Child Abduction Recovery International (CARI) agency were also arrested. British media also alleged that Faulkner subsequently tried to reach out to a rival child recovery agency from Queensland.

Lebanon is not a signatory of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which allows for children normally resident in one location to be returned if taken by a relative.