CAIRO: Egyptian authorities have released Howayda Taha, a producer at the Al-Jazeera documentary channel, on bail for the amount of LE 10,000 after accusing her of fabricating scenes of torture in police stations.
A source at the channel said that Taha underwent two consecutive days of interrogation and was released on bail on Monday.
Her confiscated videotapes, laptops and books were not returned to her, however.
On Jan. 8, Cairo International Airport security prevented the Doha-based producer from boarding a plane for Qatar and confiscated 50 videotapes in her possession, her laptop and some books.
Taha was charged with a violation of Article 80/D in the Penal Code which relates to transgressions which are considered to be threatening the country s national interest.
She was also charged with the possession and transfer of falsified graphics that tarnish Egypt’s reputation and image.
A high ranking police official at the interior ministry told The Daily Star Egypt that Taha had arrived in Cairo to work on a documentary about Egyptian arts and crafts but that it was later discovered she had been working on alleged police abuse and torture, which the Egyptian Press Office had not approved.
He said the confiscated tapes included footage of mock torture scenes, including a video of a woman tied upside down and reportedly confessing to murder, which he said had been faked by Taha and her crew.
Authorities have confiscated the 50 tapes, which were all examined by experts to prove the fabrication, the official added.
The Al-Jazeera source said, however, that Taha has copies of the confiscated tapes and still plans to continue working on her documentary.
Some 16 of the 50 confiscated contained footage, interviews, and research material. The remaining 34 were said to be empty.
Selim El Awwa, Taha s lawyer, declined commenting on the subject.
In statements made to the prosecutor’s office by Taha’s lawyer, the Al-Jazeera producer had said she had approached the interior ministry from the onset and solicited their assistance in her work.
She had been allowed to film a course on human rights issues at a police training session.
A source in the media department at the interior ministry said the ministry has no comment on the case, as the case has been totally transferred to the main prosecution office.
Although the prosecution has decided on her release on bail, still the case is not considered totally closed. The prosecution will still decide upon the case with innocence or a penalty decision, said the source.