updated 1/14/2007 10:04:23 PM ET 2007-01-15T03:04:23

An Al-Jazeera journalist said Sunday she was "fine" after 13 hours of police interrogation during her two-day detention for possessing video tapes with fabricated scenes of torture by Egyptian police.

Howaida Taha, 43, an Egyptian documentary producer for the pan-Arab TV news channel, told The Associated Press the footage was created with actors for a documentary about police torture in Egypt.

"I filmed with the authorities' permission," she said in a telephone interview as she was being released.

Taha was released on $1,750 bond, said her lawyer, Ahmed Helmi. According to Egyptian law, being released on bond means there is pending legal case, which the state can open at any time.

Taha was banned last week from traveling to Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is based, after airport police seized 50 videotapes in her luggage, an Interior Ministry statement said Saturday.

Egyptian prosecutors accused Taha of "practicing activities that harm the national interest of the country; possessing and giving false pictures about the internal situation in Egypt that could undermine the dignity of the country," Al-Jazeera said on its Arabic Web site.

Hussein Abdel-Ghani, the Al-Jazeera bureau chief in Cairo, said reconstructing scenes with actors "is a well-known method in the production of documentaries." His TV channel "is not the only network to talk about torture," he added.

Several leading Egyptian human rights groups condemned Taha's arrest and said in a statement Sunday it was part of "an ongoing policy of terrorizing the voices that are revealing torture" in Egypt.

Egyptian authorities have been increasingly sensitive about leaked videos showing citizens, both men and women, tortured in police stations.

Rights groups say torture, including sexual abuse, is routinely conducted in Egyptian police stations. The government denies systematic torture, but has investigated several officers on allegations of abuse. Some were convicted and sentenced to prison.

In November, several Egyptian bloggers posted a video showing a man naked from the waist down being sodomized with a stick. The case sparked a public uproar, and two police officers were jailed pending an investigation into allegations they had sexually assaulted the man.

Al-Jazeera is watched by millions of Arab viewers and has aggressively covered terrorist attacks in Egypt as well as anti-government demonstrations and the activities of opposition groups.

But the TV channel has also been accused of bias by Washington and has had its reporters barred by Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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