Kelly Rutherford's ex-husband accuses her of kidnapping, after she refuses to return children

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After a fierce custody battle lasting three years, Kelly Rutherford is refusing to send her children back to Monaco where they currently live with their father and her ex-husband Daniel Giersch. The actress was supposed to fly back to Europe with her son and daughter on Thursday, but the family has instead remained in the US.

Kelly, 46, released a statement the following day, reinforcing her plea for the custody of Hermes, eight, and six-year-old Helena. The children were only meant to visit their mother for the summer holidays and then return to their German businessman father.

Kelly explained the "confusing" situation, telling People: "These past three years waiting for my children to come home have been very difficult. My children were forced to leave the United States in 2012 when they were only two and five years old."

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Kelly Rutherford was due to return her children back to their father last week

"In May, a judge in California gave me sole custody and brought them home," she added. "I am immensely grateful and overjoyed to have them back. Since May, however, the court proceedings have been confusing.

"My ex-husband recently filed for sole custody in Monaco after causing my children to be declared 'habitual residents' there, even though he agreed with California in 2012 that the children's time in France and Monaco would be temporary, and that the children would retain exclusive citizenship and residency in the United States.

"I trusted my ex-husband's agreement, and cannot now send them away in light of the legal actions taken in Monaco in violation of that agreement by my ex-husband."

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The Gossip Girl star and her ex-husband Daniel Giersch, pictured in 2007, divorced in 2010

The Gossip Girl star and her ex-husband were married for four years but split in 2010. The pair have been battling for custody ever since, and the children have primarily been residing in Monaco with their father.

Kelly ended her statement: "Like all German citizens, my ex-husband can presumably travel to the United States on his German passport and exercise his parental rights in this country, just as I have done for the past three years in France and Monaco on my US passport. I pray that officials in this country and in Monaco will agree that my children have a right to remain, once and for all, in the United States."

Daniel's lawyer, meanwhile, has released a statement to E! News, explaining that the children were due back in France on 7 August and that Kelly's actions amount to kidnapping.

"Daniel will continue to protect the children from any harm and any media exposure," attorney Fahi Takesh Hallin wrote. "He will make sure that the children's safety and well being will be restored as soon as possible. He is very concerned about the traumatic impact that Kelly's behaviour will have on the children.

"Child abduction is a crime, and everyone involved in kidnapping or abducting the children will face the appropriate legal consequences. Anyone associating themselves with Kelly and her abduction is violating the law."