A Brisbane mother has been detained by Lebanese police for allegedly kidnapping her two children from a Beirut street and the Nine Network TV crew covering the story are behind bars.
Sally Faulkner is in custody after approaching the children as they waited with their grandmother at a bus stop, according to local police and media outlets.
Ms Faulkner claims her ex-husband took their children to Beirut on a holiday and then refused to bring them back home to Australia.
A Channel Nine 60 Minutes TV crew, including senior journalist Tara Brown, a producer and a cameraman, is also being detained over its alleged role in the kidnapping.
Australian consular officials visited the four Australians, who are in good health, in prison on Thursday night.
Nine Network said on Friday they had also been visited by a lawyer.
“They are being held in a police station in Beirut and been visited by DFAT officers and are in good health,” a spokeswoman told AAP.
Brown and her crew had travelled to Lebanon to cover Ms Faulkner’s attempts to bring back her children using a professional international child recovery agency.
Dramatic security camera footage broadcast on Lebanese TV and on the Nine Network appear to show the children, aged three and five, being bundled into a car by several people on a busy street in southern Beirut.
The children’s grandmother claims she was hit on the head with a pistol.
“It’s their mum that kidnapped them, and that’s what we know. She contacted me and told me she has the kids,” their father, Ali Zeid al-Amin, said soon after the incident.
Later, the children were returned to their father, who later told local media that he suspected his ex-wife would make an attempt to take the children.
“She’s the mother of my children,” he said.
“As a person, she’s not going to be lost on me. At the end of the day, she’s a mum.
“If I was in her position I would have done the same thing, but I don’t think I would have done it the same way.
“I would have tried to discuss face to face.”
A British citizen from the child recovery agency involved has been detained on suspicion he planned to smuggle the children out of Lebanon on a boat, according to police.
Lebanon, unlike Australia, is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which allows for children normally resident in one location to be returned if taken by a relative.