60 Minutes crew to be charged

Australian mother Sally Faulkner and a crew from Channel Nine have been questioned by a Lebanese judge who could downgrade child abduction charges against them.

Four members of the Channel Nine crew — presenter Tara Brown, producer Stephen Rice, cameraman Ben Williamson and sound recordist David Ballment — were among a group of people arrested after a botched attempt to take Ms Faulkner's children off the streets of the capital, Beirut.

Ms Faulkner emerged shaken and teary eyed after being questioned by the judge for about 20 minutes.

Her estranged husband Ali el-Amien — who took the children to Lebanon last year and refused to let them return — had already been questioned, and Ms Faulkner was questioned in front of him.

She had no lawyer and there was no accredited interpreter either.

Her answers were noted down by a clerk, but, with no proper interpreter, the judge could not ask her to sign the record of interview and the proceedings might be delayed until one is found.

But, despite appearances, she has the best chance of being freed. Mr el-Amien says he does not want to press charges against her.

Because her attempt to get them back last week was not a case of kidnapping for ransom and was instead about reuniting them with their mother, the charges could be downgraded from the more serious "deprivation of liberty" to a misdemeanour.

Ms Faulkner could be freed and a conviction could be punished by as little as three months in prison.

Brown looked calm and composed after a brief questioning.

Both were being led about wearing handcuffs and Brown stumbled briefly when pulled by a guard as she was being taken back to her cell.

The other members of the Channel Nine crew were also brought up briefly.

The key for them all will be to demonstrate they were not directly connected to the act of grabbing the children off the street.

The members of the team that did were also brought up for brief questioning.

The judge will want to know which of them pushed the children's grandmother to the ground during the operation — something that could make the punishment more severe.

The alleged leader of the child recovery team, Adam Wittington, is reportedly a former Australian soldier and British police officer.

It is understood he was detained on a yacht in a luxury marina when the rest of the team was intercepted.

Former senior Australian diplomat Bruce Haigh, who served in several Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia and Iran, said the key to Channel Nine getting its employees out of Lebanon was to apologise profusely.

"You need to grovel," Mr Haigh told AM.

"You need to go and make an abject apology to the Lebanese Government and you need to say, 'Look, we made a huge error, a bad error of judgement and we really apologise for what's occurred.'

"Nothing short of that will get these people out."

A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said Australian consular staff in Beirut were continuing to provide ongoing consular assistance.

'Some days' before crew can defend themselves: Nine

Lebanese authorities have claimed they have uncorroborated evidence Nine paid for the failed child abduction.

Authorities said they had a signed statement from a member of the "recovery team" who said Nine paid $115,000 for the operation.

However, that statement is uncorroborated and the ABC has not seen it and cannot confirm the claim.

Lebanese authorities have also claimed to be in possession of footage of the botched kidnapping, which shows the face of a Channel Nine cameraman.

The ABC has not seen the footage and authorities could not say if his image was recorded during the operation or beforehand.

Channel Nine has maintained its crew was not connected to the recovery team that grabbed the children, and they were filming the incident when they were detained.

The network said it will be "some days" before its 60 Minutes production crew will have their first opportunity to defend themselves.

The children were returned to their father after the incident.