‘That’s just not the case’: No charges laid as 60 Minutes crew remain in jail

Tara Brown and the 60 Minutes crew were detained in Lebanon. Photo: Channel Nine Michael Usher spoke about his colleagues in a preamble on 60 Minutes. Photo: James Brickwood
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What was 60 Minutes doing in Lebanon?Seven people expected to be chargedMother arrested, children returned to father

An Australian television crew detained in Lebanon has not been charged and there is not expected to be movement in the case until Monday night Australian time, according to the Nine Network.

Journalist Tara Brown and a crew from 60 Minutes were arrested in Beirut on Thursday after the country’s police alleged they were involved in an attempt to kidnap two children.

The network was reporting on an attempt by Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner to reunite with her children Lahela, 6, and Noah, 4, who were allegedly not returned to Australia after going to Lebanon on a holiday with their father Ali Elamine last year.

Channel Nine executives deny their crew were party to the attempt to snatch the children back and deny their cameras filmed the incident, which appeared to be captured on nearby CCTV cameras.

In a preamble to 60 Minutes on Sunday evening, host Michael Usher acknowledged Brown and crew members Stephen Rice, Ben Williamson and David Ballment, who were detained “a world away” with Ms Faulkner.

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

“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.”

Channel Nine director of communications Victoria Buchan said on Sunday evening that the crew had not been charged, despite reports from local media that charges were expected to be laid against seven people.

“There have been some reports out of Lebanon that they’re being charged. That’s not the case,” Ms Buchan said.

“Nothing will happen, as far as we’ve been advised by the consulate and our legal people, until Monday their time, which is Monday night our time.

“There’s no change to the situation. They’re still being held, and we’re still working with the consulate and legal representation to get them out and home as soon as possible.”

She said Brown, Rice, Williamson and Ballment remained in good health and good spirits.

“It’s obviously our concern to get them out safely.”

On Monday morning, entertainment reporter Peter Ford told Triple M’s Greg Martin and Ed Kavalee that the male and female detainees had been sent to different detention facilities overnight.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters at a press conference that he was in “very close” contact with Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop over the case.

“Our consular officials are in touch with the journalists and the crew that are in … prison and we are seeking through the usual diplomatic channels to ensure that they are kept safe and will be able to return,” he said.

Ms Bishop told ABC Radio she understands the crew are still being held in detention and the question of charges “will be determined shortly”.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.