February 8, 2011

Egyptian Google Executive Speaks For First Time Since Arrest

The Egyptian Google executive who was arrested during protests against President Hosni Mubarak spoke for the first time today since his 12-day ordeal of being arrested and blindfolded by the feared state security services.

Wael Ghonim, Google's head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, wept as he remembered those killed in two weeks of protests during his interview with Egypt's Dream 2 television channel.

According to rights activists, he admitted having started a group on social networking site Facebook called "We are all Khaled Said" in memory of an Egyptian man dragged from a cafe and beaten to death by police in June.

According to United Nations estimates, the Facebook site was instrumental in starting the anti-regime protests on January 25 that quickly spread, rocking Mubarak's autocratic regime but also leading to clashes in which about 300 people have died so far.

"I was blindfolded for 12 days, I couldn't hear anything, I didn't know what was happening," he said during the interview, explaining that he had been in the hands of the feared state security services since the evening of January 27.

Amnesty International warned that Ghonim could face torture in Egypt's notorious jails after his family reported they had been unable to confirm his arrest or his whereabouts for several days.

"I'm not a hero, I slept for 12 days," the executive said. "The heroes, they're the ones who were in the street, who took part in the demonstrations, sacrificed their lives, were beaten, arrested and exposed to danger."

Ghonim bowed his head and wept during the interview as the television channel showed images of some of the young people killed during the protests.

"I want to tell every mother, every father who lost a son, I'm sorry. It's not our fault, I swear, it's not our fault, it's the fault of everyone who was in power and held on to it," he blurted.

"I want to go," he said, before suddenly getting up and leaving the studio.


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