Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has weighed in on the 60 Minutes saga, labelling Channel Nine’s conduct “most unwise”.
“Nobody is above the law and if you break the law in other parts of the world, you may well be breaking Australian law as well,” he told John Laws on 2SM radio this morning.
He was asked whether Australian authorities would be investigating claims the Nine Network paid Ali el-Amine, the father at the centre of the abduction scandal, a six-figure sum to drop kidnapping charges against its staff.
“I’ve got no doubt it will be of interest to various regulatory agencies,” Mr Turnbull said, alluding to the possibility of an inquiry by financial regulator ASIC.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or who you work for, when you are overseas if you are an Australian you must obey the laws on the country you are visiting.”
Watch the clip here via the Sydney Morning Herald:
Asked if he believed Nine had been “foolish” in their involvement with the failed attempt to “recover” Mr el-Amin’s two children on behalf of their mother Sally Faulker, he said this:
“From what I have read about it, it appears to have been most unwise.”
Aside from the possible payment to Mr el-Amine, it’s been reported Nine also approached a number of underworld figures to help secure the release of the 60 Minutes team, including Mick Gatto.
Mick Gatto. Source: Getty/John Donegan
Undisclosed sources told Fairfax, a senior figure at the network contacted Mr Gatto and his business partner John Koury to help 'negotiate' the release of reporter Tara Brown and her crew members.
It's believed the pair were planning to fly to Beirut on Monday.
"We were planning to go and we agreed to do it the Slater & Gordon way - no win, no fee," Mr Khoury told the Age.
Mr Gatto declined to comment, but a spokesperson from Nine said "there were no formal Network decisions about engaging their [Mr Gatto and Mr Khoury] services in any capacity."
In a separate development ABC's 7.30 program revealed the network also approached controversial NSW politician Eddie Obeid to aid with negotiations, a claim they emphatically denied.
Yesterday, Sunrise host David Koch also pressed Scott Morrison on a possible ASIC investigation, after documents surfaced showing Nine paid $70,000 to the company responsible for the botched kidnapping.
The Treasurer was less inclined to comment than his superior.
"You are making a lot of assumptions, I am not going to do that this morning," Mr Morrison said.
"I think what we are pleased about is Miss Faulkner (the children’s mother) is coming home as are other Australians coming home."
The 60 Minutes crew arrived in Australia this morning after two weeks in detained in Lebanon.
While Mr el-Amine has dropped personal charges against the Channel 9 crew and his estranged wife, the judge who presided over the matter warned they may still face public prosecution in Lebanon.