Adam Whittington, the child rescue specialist involved in a botched mission to re-unite Australian mother Sally Faulkner with her two estranged children in Lebanon, is facing up to 7 years in jail after kidnapping charges were formally made against him and Faulkner.
Former soldier Whittington is awaiting a hearing in a Beirut prison, while Faulkner returned to Australia when charges were initially dropped in April. With her new partner, she has a third child for whom she is the primary carer.
Faulkner’s ex-husband Ali Elamine is pressing ahead with the court proceedings against Whittington and Faulkner after initially agreeing to drop charges against his former wife and a 60 Minutes crew in exchange for a payout, rumoured to be $500,000. Brown and the crew received slap on the wrist fines.
Faulkner’s mother Karen today expressed her dismay at the new developments. “It's very unfair that a woman has to go to these lengths to see and speak to her children and to hold her children, and be charged with kidnapping of her biological children she's given birth to,” the ABC reported she said.
The more serious charges of criminal conspiracy against Whittington and Faulkner have been dropped according to Whittington’s lawyer.
The pair, along with 60 Minutes reporter Tara Brown, made international headlines when Faulkner enlisted the help of Channel 9 to orchestrate the alleged kidnapping of her children Lahela, 5, and Noah, 3 from their father’s care in Lebanon.
The children travelled from Australia with their father on an international flight for what was allegedly initially agreed to be a three-week holiday in 2015, and have remained in the country ever since.
While Faulkner had sole custody of her children in Australia, Lebanon is not a signatory of the Hague Convention and she could not enforce repatriation.
"There will still be a trial on a date to be determined and out of respect for the Lebanese legal process we will not be making any further comment while the matter is still before the court," said a statement from Channel 9.
In a letter Whittington wrote to his loved ones, shared with WHO by his mother Georgina Whittington, he said, “This is the toughest thing I have ever had to face. Some days I feel like giving up. It’s like a no-win situation—in limbo, waiting, cut off from the outside world.”
Whittington’s first six weeks in prison were hellish, his mother tells WHO. “It wasn’t a big cell, there was no water and he had a hole in the ground for a toilet,” says Georgina through tears at her Gold Coast home. “There were rats crawling over him, maggots in the water and he was being fed every three days. He was in the same clothes for six weeks.”
Weeks later, Whittington, who has a home in Sweden with his wife, Swedish real-estate agent Karin, and their sons, Ty, 11, and Nelson, 5, was transported to a prison just outside of Beirut, where he now lives in a shared cell.
Facing months before the matter returns to court and years in prison if convicted of kidnapping, he has turned to his loved ones for strength.
“I have never quit anything and knowing there are so many people doing everything they can for me makes me so determined to fight each day, one day at a time,” he writes. “I promise you all I will not give up.”