true crime

Lebanon dad: "If I were to show up in Australia and try to kidnap someone, I would be shot."

In the days since two children were snatched in from a Beirut street by their own mother and crew from 60 Minutes, there’s been one side of the story that the world has been curious to hear: That of their father.

Now Ali el-Amine has spoken to 3AW radio’s Neil Mitchell, describing the situation as “bullcrap” and addressing the ongoing negotiations with his estranged wife, Sally Faulkner.

“They came into our country and they’ve done something that’s illegal,” he said. “If the tables were turned, if I were to show up in Australia and try to kidnap someone, I’d probably be shot on the spot, called a terrorist.”

Noah and Lehela. via Facebook.

Mr el-Amine's children, Lahela, five, and Noah, three, were in the care of his mother when Faulkner, the four 60 Minutes crew and two child-recovery agents snatched the pair off a Beirut street and bundled them into a waiting car.

The group was arrested short time later and charged with kidnapping, physical assault, hiding information and criminal conspiracy. They were due to face court on Tuesday, but the case has been adjourned while Ms Faulkner and Mr el-Amine continue to negotiate an agreement.

via Getty.

Mr el-Amine said that his two children are unaware that their mother is behind bars and are both doing well.

"They are are a bit scared, a bit shaken by the whole situation," he told 3AW. "I mean, having some randoms come out into the middle of the street and snatch you, I don't think anyone would want that."

With the group reportedly facing up to two decades in prison, the group's only real key to freedom reportedly rests on Mr el-Amine's shoulders. But that's a claim he denies.

"I could drop the personal charges," he told 3AW, "but the public prosecution is probably going to go forward."

"It's all in the prosecutors hands."

The children had been living with Mr el-Amine in Lebanon despite a December Family Court of Australia ruling that granted full custody to Ms Faulkner. A Mr el-Amine reportedly obtained a similar ruling in a Lebanese religious court.

The judge in the current case was yesterday quick to dispel suggestion that it is essentially a "custody dispute". "This is a criminal matter. These people have broken the law," he said.

Meanwhile, Fairfax Media has reported that relatives of the detained 60 Minutes crew are considering flying to Lebanon, against advice from Channel 9.

Colin Chapman, a child-recovery specialist, has claimed to have been contacted by at least two family members wishing to make the journey, but would not say whether they were relatives of reporter Tara Brown, producer Stephen Rice, cameraman Ben Williamson or soundman David Ballment.

Chapman has been publicly advocating for the families to have a higher profile during court proceedings. "The culture over there is very family-oriented and they need to know these people have families," he told The Sydney Morning Herald.
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