Australian mom, TV crew released from Lebanon prison, TV station reports

A police van transports Australian suspects Sally Faulkner and Tara Brown to a prison in a Beirut suburb.

Story highlights

  • Sally Faulkner and Australian TV crew have been released, TV station is reporting
  • They faced charges over alleged kidnapping of Faulkner's children from a Beirut street
  • Australian television says its crew will be leaving Lebanon on Wednesday night

(CNN)An Australian mother and a television crew charged with the alleged kidnapping of two children in Lebanon have been released from prison and are on their way to the airport to leave the country, the TV crew's website is reporting.

Sally Faulkner, who is from Brisbane, had been detained along with four staff members of Australian current affairs show "60 Minutes" since a so-called child recovery agency snatched her daughter, 6, and son, 4, from a Beirut street on April 7.
    The three male members of the "60 Minutes" crew were the first to walk free with "smiles as wide as the Harbour Bridge," 9News reporter Tom Steinfort reported from Lebanon. They were followed by Tara Brown, leader of the Australian TV crew, who joined her "60 Minutes" colleagues in a van headed for Beirut Airport, Steinfort said.
    "Paparazzi on motorbikes in hot pursuit," Steinfort added.
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    Faulkner's attorney, Ghassan Moghabghab, told CNN earlier that a deal had been reached with prosecutors to release the five Australians, and he was in the process of submitting the required paperwork.
    He said each detainee had been ordered to pay bail of 1 million Lebanese pounds ($662).
    The Brisbane woman had mounted a months-long campaign pushing for the return of her children, whom she says were taken to Lebanon by Ali Elamine, her ex-husband, and not returned.

    Australian network: Crew to fly home

    In Australia, Channel 9 reported on its website that the charges against the staff and Faulkner had been dropped, and that the crew would be flying out of Lebanon on Wednesday night.
    The film crew -- including Brown, producer Stephen Rice, cameraman Ben Williamson and sound recordist David Ballment -- had faced charges of kidnapping, physical assault, hiding information and criminal conspiracy, according to Channel 9.
    The network reported that Elamine had told a judge he wanted the charges dropped against the group, saying the current affairs team was just doing its job.
    Lebanese police had earlier said that two Britons were also detained in connection with the alleged kidnapping attempt. Channel 9 reported via a correspondent covering the case that the charges against the two Britons remained.
    Lebanese police said that the children were later found and returned to Elamine.
    In a change.org petition posted last year, Faulkner pleaded with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to intervene in the case.
    "They were terrifyingly put on a plane by my ex-husband and I haven't heard from them since," Faulkner said in the petition, which attracted more than 33,000 signatures.