Adam Whittington's lawyer fights to clear client as emails reveal plans for botched operation

By Victoria Craw

Australian TV journalist Tara Brown, left, and Sally Faulkner, right, the mother of the two Australian children, sit in a minivan after they released from a Lebanese jail. Photo / AP
Australian TV journalist Tara Brown, left, and Sally Faulkner, right, the mother of the two Australian children, sit in a minivan after they released from a Lebanese jail. Photo / AP

The lawyer for detained CARI operative Adam Whittington has said he would release proof of the arrangement between the Nine Network and his client as he fights for bail in Beirut.

It comes as a leaked email reveals the extent to which the television station demanded star presenter Tara Brown was involved in the botched abduction attempt, saying it was crucial she be included in "critical moments".

On Friday, exactly one week after the Australian mother Sally Faulker returned home, Mr Whittington's lawyer Joe Karam told AAP his client was "very upset" because he believed there had been a "political double-standard" in the case.

"There was a contractual arrangement between Channel Nine and Adam. Channel Nine was twice invoiced by his company. How can they deny there was a relationship?"

Having already released one document showing a payment of $69,000, Mr Karam said he would provide further evidence that Whittington was not the mastermind of the operation.

"By now everyone must know Adam was not the brains behind this operation. The mother, Sally Faulkner, was the brains and Channel Nine was the financier," he said.

"Channel Nine knew they were taking a critical risk and they must be held liable for that. People at the highest level of the organisation made decisions and they have a moral and ethical obligation not to desert those they engaged."

It comes as a leaked email from an unnamed Nine employee, which was provided to News Corp Australia, shows how arrangements for the alleged kidnapping attempt were made.

"Our stories are based on our reporter being involved at critical moments and that's how I've been able to get approval here for this story," it reads.

The employee goes on to state Tara Brown is one of the network's "most experienced journalists" and asks for the final invoice of $46,000 to fund the operation.

It also seeks assurance the Nine crew will be able to be on the boat when the children are recovered, saying:

"I understand nothing is guaranteed in this business - things can go wrong and plans sometimes have to be changed," it states.

"But I hope the intention is still for all four of our crew to be on the boat."

Craig Michael and Adam Whittington (R) remain in jail in Beirut.
Craig Michael and Adam Whittington (R) remain in jail in Beirut.

The source of the email remains undisclosed.

Earlier this month Sally Faulkner and the 60 Minutes crew were released on bail after the father of the two children involved, Ali Elamine, agreed to drop charges against them.

In exchange, Sally Faulkner was forced to give up custody and grant her estranged husband a divorce.

It's widely believed Nine paid Mr Elamine a sum reportedly close to $1 million for the charges to be dropped against the 60 Minutes team. Both parties have denied such a transaction.

Despite being back in Australia, charges by authorities remain and the team may be called upon to return to the country or be tried in absentia.

Mr Whittington and his partner and former client Craig Michael remain in the Beirut jail and claim they have been abandoned by the network.

At the time the Australian crew were released, Mr Karam said "they came together, they should leave together."

In the weeks since, a mixed picture of the two men has emerged, with industry rivals taking aim at them and Mr Michael's ex-partner coming forward to speak of his desperation and drug use.

On Wednesday, Adam Whittington's wife Karin told The Project, the "truth would come out" and complained Nine had shut her out of the deal.

"They could have (had) the decency to at least see how I am," she said.

"I know that Adam has told me he is not disappointed in the crew itself - the photographer or the journalist - but in the management of the team just to dismiss everything and say they have no responsibility," she said.

"It is not very moral, in my eyes."

Mr Whittington's lawyer, Joe Karam, hopes a decision on bail for the two men will be made on May 4.

- news.com.au

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