July 11, 2016
Sally Faulkner’s estranged Lebanese husband has blocked the Brisbane mother’s internet and phone access to their children, deepening her anguish after she was charged over a bungled bid to snatch them.
Ali Elamine also turned away Australian embassy staff when they tried recently to check on Lahela, 6, and Noah, 4, in Beirut.
“He basically slammed the door when the people from the embassy went to see him,” Ms Faulkner’s mother Karen Buckley said. “He won’t allow anyone to have contact with the children.”
Ms Buckley said Mr Elamine had shut down the children’s Facebook access and blocked their mother’s attempts to reach them through Skype, WhatsApp or by phone.
He had also refused to share updated photographs of them.
To compound Ms Faulkner’s distress, she has been notified she will face criminal prosecution in Lebanon for kidnap, along with the team led by Australian “child recovery” agent Adam Whittington that seized the children on April 7 in an operation funded by the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes.
Ms Buckley said her daughter had not decided whether she would voluntarily return to Lebanon to face court, though this was unlikely.
Ms Faulkner has told The Australian she hoped the charge would be downgraded from kidnap, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years’ jail in Lebanon. “I know what I did and I know why I did it, because I literally had no choice legally,” she said last week. “So you can’t live your life with regrets.”
Ms Buckley said the family was holding up, but the situation was trying when there was no news of the children.
She said the family was dismayed by recent photographs of Mr Elamine partying in Dubai.
Ms Faulkner, 29, was reunited with her children briefly before the Lebanese authorities swooped, arresting her as well as Mr Whittington and his team and the 60 Minutes crew, who filmed the grab on a south Beirut street.
Mr Elamine dropped civil charges against the program after the Nine Network stumped up a cash settlement, reportedly of $500,000.
Under the deal, Ms Faulkner relinquished custody rights to the children in Lebanon, even though she had a ruling in her favour from the Family Court in Australia.
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