Four Australian 60 Minutes reporters attempted a violent street kidnapping which was caught on camera, and have landed in a Lebanese jail facing serious charges.
It’s an epic journalism ethics failure that might leave an Aussie news crew in Lebanese prison for years to come.
Hubris is the culprit.
Her husband Ali Elamine promised to return from vacation in his home country, but lied to his wife and stayed in Lebanon.
So 60 Minutes reporters could record the whole fiasco.
A car containing employees of CARI and Ms. Faulkner had cruised to a stop near a bus stop in South Beirut where Mr. Elamine’s mother and a nanny were walking the two young children.
Two CARI agents got out of the the car and grabbed the children from the arms of their grandmother and another woman, while a third passenger appeared to be video recording the snatch, according to grainy security camera video captured by a CCTV camera at a nearby shop.
When one of the women appeared to fight back, she was violently pushed away from the vehicle, which then sped off.
Faulkner had a mother’s desperation to re-unite with her children, but international and Lebanese law is squarely on Elamine’s side
Parental rights are automatically given to fathers in Lebanon and the country is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, which stipulates that children be returned to their “country of habitual residence”.
And so Faulkner turned to the media, with disastrous consequences. Now, along with four 60 Minutes journalists including presenter Tara Brown, she is in custody in Beirut following an audacious attempt to snatch the two children from a Beirut street. Two of the agents working for CARI, the “child recovery” organisation behind the bungled operation (run by Australian ex-soldier Adam Whittington), are also in custody.
At least until they participated in the violent, street abduction of Sally Faulkner’s two children on the streets of Beirut.
Luckily, nobody died.
Now, Whittington and three others are crammed into a single-person cell, and Australian authorities won’t assist him after the CARI planner entered Lebanon on a UK passport.
Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.
The arrested include mother Falkner, reporter Brown and producer Rice, along with colleagues cameraman Ben Williamson and sound recordist David Ballment all face 20-year prison sentences according to News.com.au.
No matter the outcome, numerous careers will be ruined, and the frustrated mother will likely bear permanent separation from her children too.
When the whole disastrous kidnapping on camera fell apart, Nine Network’s 60 Minutes producers completed their historically awful breach of journalistic ethical requirements to minimize harm, by rejecting Faulkner’s frantic requests for a ‘Plan B‘ escape with her children from Lebanon.
Any choice in the matter would be a grievous breach of ethics by then, because helping the mother would harm the father.
But, 60 Minutes producers did enable the mother to become a criminal conspirator.
They callously burned their subject.
She begged to take her chances in war-torn Syria, but even soldiers of fortune shot the idea down.
Then the 60 Minutes producers refused to pay for Faulkner’s $75,000 alternative escape plan, stranding her overseas with her two children until picked up by authorities.
In the end, neither child was harmed and both safely returned to their father, Ali Elamine.
Lebanese criminal charges are pending against the mother, journalists, mercenaries and two locals, who assisted the kidnapping plot and Faulkner’s desperate attempts to beg her husband to drop charges have failed.