Detained 60 Minutes crew in contact with Australian consulate

The Australian consulate in Beirut has made contact with an Australian reporter and TV crew, who are being detained by Lebanese police.

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The 60 minutes reporter, Tara Brown, and her crew are being held after filming the recovery of two Australian children, believed to be aged four and six, who had been taken to Beirut by their Lebanese father early last year.

Australian officials are due to speak to the crew, who are understood to be at a local police station, Nine News reported on Thursday.

Lebanese authorities said four Australians, including journalists, were detained on suspicion they were involved in the abduction of two children in Beirut.

Police officials said the detainees are being questioned over the kidnapping of the son and daughter of a Lebanese man and an Australian woman who have been living in Beirut since their father brought them from Australia.

They say the children were taken after an attack on their Lebanese grandmother as she took them to school near their home in Beirut.

Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil was quoted by local media as saying the children and their mother were currently at the Australian embassy in Beirut.

Reporter Michael Usher said the 60 Minutes team in Australia was concerned they had not been able to speak to the crew in Beirut for 15 hours.

“That’s obviously been very concerning for all of us here, but it is a relief to know that at least Australian officials are about to speak to them directly,” he told Nine News.

“We will just have to wait and see.”

Nine aired dramatic pictures of children being taken and rushed into a vehicle, leaving two women believed to be a grandmother and nanny behind.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop earlier said consular assistance would be provided.

A private child recovery agency was also involved in the incident, and Lebanese police said a British citizen had been detained on suspicion he planned to smuggle the children out of Lebanon on his boat.