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EGYPT: Released Google executive says he is neither hero nor traitor

Ghonim interview

A detained Google executive who became a rallying symbol for anti-government protesters in Egypt said he was neither a hero nor a traitor in an emotional television interview just hours after his release Monday.

Wael Ghonim's comments on Dream TV were translated by Sultan Sooud al Qassemi, a columnist for the National, an English-language publication in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and posted on Qassemi's Twitter account. According to the translation, Ghonim said: “I am not a hero. I only used the keyboard. The real heroes are the ones on the ground.”

Ghonim, Google's head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, had traveled to Egypt from his home in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He disappeared Jan. 27 after joining the protests, and his whereabouts were not known until Egyptian television stations reported Sunday that he would be released the next day.

Ghonim was quoted as saying in the interview that he had administered a Facebook page that helped rally protesters. He said he was in a taxi when four people surrounded the car, blindfolded him and transferred him to “state security."

Although he said he was not mistreated in custody, he said that “nothing justifies kidnapping.”

His interrogators wanted to know whether outsiders were involved in organizing the protests, he said. He told them that it was a spontaneous youth movement . 

“This is the era where people who have good intentions are considered traitors,” he was quoted as saying. “If I was a traitor, I would have stayed by the swimming pool in my house in the UAE.”

Ghonim said he also spoke with Egypt’s new interior minister, who treated him “like an equal.”

"We are a beautiful people," he said. "Please, everybody, this is not a time to settle scores; this is a time to build our country."

Ghonim said he cried when he found out that people had died during the unrest. 

"I want to tell families who lost their sons this is not our fault," he said. "This is the fault of those clinging to power."

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Full coverage of Egypt uprising: News, photos, videos and more

 -- Alexandra Zavis

Photo: Freed Google Inc. executive Wael Ghonim breaks down during a television interview. Credit: Dream TV

Comments () | Archives (4)

THE WORLD IS AMAZED BY EGYPTIAN PEOPLE WHAT AN AMAZING REVOLUTION , REAL PATRIOTS WHO LOVE THERE COUNTRY!!!

my god what a hero and who don't even want the name hero !!!! he is son of Egyptian revolution , i respect and love wael he is blessed human being !!!!!
ALLAH YETEWELL UMRAK!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can an Arabic speaker out there please lend a hand? It would be very helpful if you could watch this clip of Mr. Ghonim and translate what he says from about 9:21 to 9:45. During this stretch, the English translation stops. But just prior, he begins talking about the Muslim Brotherhood. I'd like to know what he had to say about them. Thanks much in advance.

I will be praying for Egypt. I will be praying for Wael Ghonim. I have heard America sing, "God Bless America". We ought to sing, "God Bless the Whole World". We have brothers and sisters fighting everywhere. Some are fighting to keep their homes, some fighting to save their families, some fighting over power, and some fighting over religion. There is always war, and now we need to call on God if we haven't done it before.


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