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'Inexcusable errors' in Australian TV child kidnapping attempt

A report blamed the producers' poor judgment for attempting to snatch an Australian mother's children from Lebanon. Channel Nine TV said the team didn't adhere to safety and security protocols.

The team from Channel Nine's "60 Minutes" current affairs program were detained last month and accused of aiding Australian mother Sally Faulkner to snatch her son and daughter on a Beirut street.

The team was charged with kidnapping the two children and

spent almost two weeks in jail before being released

after the woman's estranged husband agreed to drop personal charges.

An internal review by the broadcaster, released on Friday, found that "inexcusable errors were made" that exposed the network's staff to serious risks and the program and the network itself to "significant reputational damage."

TV channel not consulted

Among the most serious mistakes were Nine's payment to the child recovery contractor hired independently by the mother and its attempt to produce the story without first consulting its security advisers, "60 Minutes" founder and former producer Gerald Stone said in his report.

Stone found the crew formed an emotional attachment to Faulkner and "in this case, it led to '60 Minutes' grossly underestimating a number of factors, not least the power or willingness of a foreign government to enforce its laws."

The show's story producer Stephen Rice was fired, while all other staff involved in its planning and execution have been given formal warnings, he added.

Faulkner has alleged that her ex-husband Ali al-Amin took their children for a holiday to Beirut and then refused to return them to Australia.

Her lawyer Ghassan Mughabghab told journalists last month his client had since struck a deal with Amin granting him full custody of the children in line with Lebanese law.

mm/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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