Channel 9 should release review of 60 Minutes Beirut story, says Peter Greste

Journalist Peter Greste says Channel 9 has a responsibility to help secure Adam Whittington's release from custody in Lebanon.

Channel 9 has completed part of its review into the 60 Minutes child abduction story in Beirut. Greste, an Al Jazeera journalist who spent more than a year in an Egyptian jail, has said the review should be made public, but it is unclear if and when it will be.

Whittington, a child recovery specialist, wasarrested alongside the 60 Minutes crew and Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner, who were all working to bring Ms Faulkner's two children back to Australia.

Whittington remained in Lebanon while the 60 Minutes crew were sent home, and says he has been abandoned by Channel 9.

Greste said that news and media organisations had a responsibility to support anyone who they work with, particularly in hostile and difficult environments.

"If companies and news organisations do this all the time, they're expecting people to go into frontline areas, into areas where there is a certain degree of risk, then I think they need to follow through and support them, regardless of the outcome," he said.

Channel 9 has admitted it made mistakes and it is conducting a review into the editorial approval of the Beirut story and the actions of the crew.

Staff interviews have been carried out and the first report has been handed to the board for consideration.

The network has previously said that Whittington was not employed by Channel 9 and that its contract was with Ms Faulkner.

But the ABC has been provided with a bank statement showing Channel 9 paid the child recovery firm $69,000.

Greste said that there was an open question as to whether or not he was "technically employed by Channel 9."

"Certainly what we've seen so far suggests that Channel 9 was paying him and if that's the case, then they've got a responsibility to support him," Greste said.

"If it's as though they're working very closely together, and the relationship was much closer than the standard reporter covering some kind of event where somebody in that story gets into trouble.

"There seems to be a closer relationship, a closer association than that."


Communication with my family was crucial: Greste

Greste said he thought Channel 9 needed to advocate "publicly and forcefully" for Whittington.

"I think they need to be, if they feel like they can't do that, then they certainly need to be helping with legal costs and any other costs associated with it," he said.

Greste was detained in Egypt along with fellow Al Jazeera staff Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed in December 2013, accused of "spreading false news" while covering demonstrations after the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

He said communication with his family was crucial and he has appealed to Channel 9 to help Whittington's family.

"What was absolutely vital for our families, was openness and transparency," Greste said.

"Obviously not all of the time were our family's views taken, it was a difficult series of negotiations and conversations, but those conversations took place and I think that ought to be the case in Adam Whittington's situation."