updated 10/23/2007 4:56:36 PM ET 2007-10-23T20:56:36

A court in Nigeria on Tuesday released on bail an American aid worker charged with violating state security after she helped two Germans film in the country’s troubled Niger Delta oil region.

Judith Asuni, a U.S. citizen married to a Nigerian, and fellow accused Nigerian colleague Danjuma Saidu were allowed to go home on condition they make bail deposits of $80,000 each and surrender their travel documents.

Presiding Judge Binta Murtala Nyako said she was granting them bail despite the seriousness of the allegations because prosecutors failed to file evidence against them before the court.

Asuni and Saidu were arrested along with Germans Alexander Orpitz and Andy Lehman on Sept. 3. Prosecutors charged them with entering protected places and obtaining video and still images of oil installations and sensitive documents — acts said to be “prejudicial to the security” of Nigeria. If convicted they could face more than seven years each in prison.

The Germans were given bail at their last court appearance on Oct. 5, while the authorities continued to hold Asuni and Saidu, both of Academic Peace Associates, a non-governmental body working to end years of unrest in the oil region.

Oil-rich Nigeria has experienced waves of attacks in the past two years that have targeted its oil installations — the work of criminals seizing hostages for ransom and militants campaigning for more local control of oil revenue. Authorities in Africa’s leading oil producer have shown increased sensitivity lately to the filming or photographing of oil installations.

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