Adam Whittington slams 60 Minutes over botched Beirut abduction

By Victoria Craw

Adam Whittington slammed Channel 9 for leaving him to languish in a rat-infested Beirut jail for nearly four months in the aftermath of the failed abduction.
Adam Whittington slammed Channel 9 for leaving him to languish in a rat-infested Beirut jail for nearly four months in the aftermath of the failed abduction.

Adam Whittington has lashed out at Channel Nine over its handling of 60 Minutes' botched child abduction fiasco.

Whittington, the head of Child Abduction Recovery International (CARI), slammed the network for leaving him to languish in a rat-infested Beirut jail for nearly four months in the aftermath of the failed abduction of Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner's two children from Lebanon.

And he accused Nine of outright dishonesty in the aftermath of the incident, when it denied paying him a six-figure sum for the operation.

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 invoice clearly shows payment from 60 Minutes, Channel Nine, to our account," he told Mike Willesee on Channel Seven's Sunday Night.

"I mean, everything they said in the media, we could prove it was a lie."

Whittington was clear on what he thought of Nine's internal review, which resulted in the sacking of producer Stephen Rice while reporter Tara Brown, cameraman Ben Williamson and sound recordist David Ballment walked free.

"I've seen that review. I received a copy of it in the prison," Whittington said; "It was passed around and used as toilet paper. That's what we did with it."

After Willesee repeated: "You were paid and Channel Nine paid you", he replied: "Absolutely."

Whittington, who was released from the prison in July, relived the horror of his time behind bars, where he went weeks without showering and found maggots in the drinking water.

"It's just one of those places you don't want to remember," he said, flinching as Willesee prompted him to recount the violent treatment he had seen meted out to a fellow prisoner "who appeared to be gay".

Whittington was arrested alongside Faulkner and four 60 Minutes crew in early April when the attempt to recover Faulkner's children in a Lebanese street came unstuck. The whole group was jailed.

Craig Michael and Adam Whittington (R).
Craig Michael and Adam Whittington (R).

He has no regrets about taking the job, recalling the joy on Faulkner's face when she was reunited with her children.

"I spent 20 minutes with Sally and the kids in the safe house. They were so happy. All they kept saying [was], 'Mummy we're going back to Australia, we're going back to home'," Whittington said.

"So ... went back to the boat and we were sort of finalising the departure papers with customs, immigration and the marina and the police just turned up, Hezbollah turned up, the army turned up...

"[Nine] turned it into an absolute joke the way they acted and behaved in Beirut to get what they wanted."

Channel Nine secured a deal worth $500,000 with the children's father, Ali Elamine, to drop charges of kidnapping against Ms Faulkner and the 60 Minutes team and they were released after almost two weeks in a Beirut prison.

Whittington arrives at Stockholm airport welcomed by his wife Karin after his release from prison. Photo / News Corp Australia
Whittington arrives at Stockholm airport welcomed by his wife Karin after his release from prison. Photo / News Corp Australia

Whittington and his team were left in jail. He was released in July on $26,000 bail but still faces charges and possible jail time.

When released after more than 100 days behind bars, Whittington vowed he would return to Australia to tell the "real story", posting on CARI's Facebook page: "The world, like I was, will be shocked when you hear the truth."

Sunday Night dismissed reports it paid Whittington up to $1 million to talk.

"Sunday Night made no payment to Mr Whittington, his family or any other party for the interview. The fact that he wasn't paid will be disclosed in the program," Seven said in a statement.

- news.com.au

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