Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim Speaks After 36 Hours in Egyptian Prison

Jehane Noujaim Headshot
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The jailed documentarian says she was accused of throwing Molotov cocktails while covering the Cairo protests.

After being taken into custody on Wednesday, American-Egyptian filmmaker Jehane Noujaim is a free woman again.

The Control Room director was in her birth city of Cairo, filming protests in Tahrir Square for her latest project, when she was accused of throwing Molotov cocktails and jailed in Tora prison.

She gave an interview to NBC News after her release.

"My charge was throwing Molotov cocktails and destroying public property," she said. "If I throw a rock I'd hit the back of the head of the protester in front of me... that claim was so ridiculous, yet I was in prison for 36 hours because of it."

Noujaim was not abused, as some journalists have claimed to be. Her phone and camera were confiscated, though, and she said all she did to incite the arrest was flee an area filled with tear gas clouds.

"If that happens to me, imagine what happens to a kid who gets picked up off the street who doesn't have all of these connections," she said.

Noujaim has been working in Tahrir Square protests for 10 months for a film about Egypt's revolution. She admitted in the interview that the process was slow.

"These changes take time," she said, "and I don't want to put this gigantic blame on the poor kids in the police or the poor kids in the army."

Control Room, her 2004 documentary about Al Jazeera and the way news organizations covered the invasion of Iraq, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, a DGA Award and a WGA Award.