It’s been 12 days since Tara Brown and her 60 Minutes colleagues were detained by Lebanese authorities because of their involvement in the botched kidnapping of Australian mum Sally Faulkner’s children.
While Channel Nine maintains the crew is in “good spirits and coping well”, details have emerged of the overcrowded, dirty and difficult conditions of their incarceration.
The man in charge of the failed abduction, Adam Whittington, one of several others facing charges over the incident, says he and the 60 Minutes’ Stephen Rice, Ben Williamson and David Ballmen are sharing a cramped underground cell, designed for one person.
“The rats are as big as cats, it is so small we can’t move, and the toilet in the ground is blocked,” he told The Australian of Beirut’s Baabda detention centre in an exclusive interview.
Tara Brown, Stephen Rice, Ben Williamson and David Ballmen. Source: 60 Minutes
Whittington also said if it weren't for food delivered to the group by their lawyers every day they'd be starving.
"If it wasn’t for that we would be starving, because you get pita bread once a day and a meal only every three days," he said.
Brown and Faulkner are being held in a separate women's facility nearby, where up to ten women sleep in cells roughly three by five metres.
Prisoners are allowed two hours of sunlight each day and exercise on the roof, according to Fairfax who visited the prison over the weekend.
The women sleep in bunks and each has a small closet for their belongings, the report explained.
On Monday fresh food is delivered, including tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, rice, potatoes and fruits, which the prisoners cook for themselves. Like the men, they are also allowed to have food brought to them.
Deodorant is not permitted, but shampoo and conditioner is allowed, as long as it's kept in transparent bottles.
Brown said she was being "very well-treated", according to an update from 60 Minutes Ross Coulthart delivered at the end of last night's program.
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"We are working relentlessly to bring them home and we acknowledge the strong support of their families in helping us do that," Coulthart reassured audiences.
"We want you to know that every possible effort is being made to ensure our team's well being as they go through the legal process."
Meanwhile, Whittington said he and his cell mates were getting along well and keeping each other entertained with jokes and funny anecdotes.
"They are a bunch of great guys," he said. "All we want to do is get home."
Feature image:60 Minutes