The Nine Network 60 Minutes TV crew and Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner are expected to face a judge in Lebanon tonight over their involvement in the alleged abduction and recovery of Ms Faulkner’s two children.
Over the weekend, Lebanese authorities split up the detained Australians, sending Ms Faulkner and 60 Minutes star reporter Tara Brown to a female-only detention centre and the male members of the TV crew to another detention centre.
Nine’s European correspondent Tom Steinfort told the Today Show that Channel Nine had hired a well-respected local criminal lawyer to represent its staff members at their first hearing tonight.
“We are likely to find out whether or not they will be facing charges and perhaps what those charges may well be. It is a tricky legal process here and it’s one that is likely to take some time,” Mr Steinfort told The Today Show.
The crew and Ms Faulkner were arrested by Lebanese authorities along with members of an international child recovery agency last week following an attempt to kidnap Ms Faulkner’s children Noah, four, and Lahela, six, from her ex-husband Ali el-Amien.
CCTV footage aired in local media and on Channel Nine appeared to show Noah and Lahela being snatched off their paternal grandmother on a busy Beirut street by a group of masked men and bundled into a car.
The children were handed over to Ms Faulkner but the agents and a film crew from the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes, including reporter Tara Brown, were arrested a short time later.
Authorities found Ms Faulkner and the children shortly after, arresting the Brisbane mum and returning the kids to their father.
Ms Faulkner claims her children were taken to Lebanon by her ex-husband without her permission.
The 60 Minutes crew have spent five days in custody and were visited by Australian consular officials over the weekend who reported them to be in good spirits given their predicament.
Channel Nine says its director of news and current affairs has also just arrived in Beirut.
“The last thing our team wanted was to be a subject of their own story,” the network said on 60 Minutes on Sunday night.