A Sydney woman who is trapped in Lebanon facing adultery charges has been refused help with finding a "safe house" by the Australian embassy in Beirut.
Mahassen Issa, 29, a mother of two from Greenacre has pleaded for help, saying she has run out of money, has nowhere to stay and is being pursued by bounty hunters, but staff on behalf of Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said it is "outside the scope of their consular role".
The charges of adultery were apparently triggered when Ms Issa's Australian husband registered their marriage in Lebanon and then made a complaint that she had travelled there and was with another man.
Ms Issa's family have publicly disowned her and a court order has been obtained prohibiting Ms Issa, under her married name Mahassen Abou Lokmeh, from leaving Lebanon. It was issued on July 24 by the Lebanese Office of General Security.
Ms Issa's lawyer, Zali Burrows, said it was an unusual situation because Ms Issa, who is Australian-born and was married in Australia, has not committed any crimes against a Lebanese citizen.
A letter to Ms Burrows from the First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs said "consular staff have discussed with Ms Abou Lokmeh the possible provision of a 'safe house' and advised her that such assistance is outside the scope of the embassy's consular role".
"I am advised that the sentence for adultery under local law is imprisonment for a term of between three months and two years," the letter continued.
It said the embassy was in close communication with Ms Issa about her situation, including her personal security and safety, and was providing her with appropriate assistance under the charter.
But Ms Issa said she had not received any assistance apart from being told to go to a women's refuge, which would not take her because she is the subject of a court order.
She has sent a message from Lebanon saying she is hiding in squalid hostels in the northern city of Tripoli.
"I don't stay in one place in fear of random security checks," she said.
"I am so scared that I do not sleep and get up from any slight noise or siren. Tripoli was up in arms last night and there were gunshots and bombs going off all night. I was shaking all night from anxiety and stress."
Ms Issa said she stays inside all day and night in fear of being seen or stopped at a checkpoint.
"I wait by the door when I hear voices and listen for any footsteps, and I have hidden my passport in my singlet," she said.