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60 Minutes crew arrives back in Australia as document shows Nine paid recovery firm $69,000

ABC News logo ABC News 21/04/2016 Matt Brown
'60 Minutes' crew arrive back in Australia © AAP Image/Twitter '60 Minutes' crew arrive back in Australia

The Channel Nine 60 Minutes crew involved in a botched attempt to remove two children in Beirut two weeks ago has arrived back in Australia.

It comes as the lawyer for the head of the child recovery firm still in Lebanon, and facing charges of child abduction at a court in Beirut, has provided the court with a document purporting a payment of almost $70,000 from TCN Channel Nine to the firm.

The four-person crew were held in detention for nearly two weeks after being accused of being involved in an operation to snatch the children of Sally Faulkner and her estranged husband Ali Elamine.

The plane carrying the team, including journalist Tara Brown, landed at Sydney airport about 10:00pm on Thursday.

"I am just so glad to be home, I am really very happy to be home," Brown told a media scrum, before the four were whisked away in a waiting car.

In a separate development, 7.30 has confirmed controversial former NSW politician Eddie Obeid was approached by a friend of his at Channel Nine, and made a number of calls to senior Lebanese politicians in relation to the case.

Mr Obeid was born in Lebanon. Nine has issued an emphatic denial that it approached Mr Obeid directly or indirectly, saying the allegation is completely false.

On Wednesday, a deal was struck with Mr Elamine to get the five Australians released from prison on bail.

Legal sources claimed the release of the five Australians was arranged after Channel Nine agreed to pay Mr Elamine compensation believed to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It is understood Ms Faulkner also agreed to drop all custody claims. However, Mr Elamine denied he was paid a cent.

"No I haven't received anything ... I got supposedly Sally signing off on the custody of the kids, that's worth more than anything to me," he said.

On Thursday, the ABC was provided with a bank statement showing Channel Nine paid a child recovery firm $69,000 for its involvement in the attempted abduction.

The document shows TCN Channel Nine paid the head of Child Abduction Recovery International, Adam Whittington, in January for his investigation into the missing children.

Mr Whittington's lawyer Joe Karam said he wishes Channel Nine had included his clients in the deal reached on Wednesday, given they were funded by the television network.

Sally Faulkner said she would not leave Beirut until she saw her children. © Facebook Sally Faulkner said she would not leave Beirut until she saw her children. Mother leaves court without seeing children

Meanwhile, Brisbane mother Ms Faulkner visited a Beirut court Thursday morning but left without seeing her children.

On Wednesday, judge Rami Abdullah ordered Mr Elamine to bring the two children to the court so their mother could see them and give them one last hug.

But Mr Elamine arrived on Thursday without their two kids, and Ms Faulkner did not get to see them.

She told reporters she was sad about that, that she loved them very much and would not be leaving Beirut until she saw them.

Mr Elamine did not want to bring the children to the court because he said he did not want them subjected to the inevitable media crush.

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