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Google CEO Eric Schmidt says company is 'very proud' of Egypt's Wael Ghonim

Eric Schmidt at Mobile World Congress

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said Tuesday that Google is "very, very proud" of Wael Ghonim, the company executive who helped organize the 18 days of protests in Egypt that resulted in the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

Wael Ghonim Ghonim, who is on a leave of absence from Google, was also imprisoned for 12 days, during which Mubarak's government kept him blindfolded and questioned him about the protests and how they got started.

Schmidt, who made the remarks at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, was the first at Google to give an outright opinion on Ghonim's actions, according to an Associated Press report.

Before that, Google's only comment had been in a statement issued after Ghonim's release: "Huge relief -- Wael Ghonim has been released. Our love to him and his family."

Mubarak held the presidency for more than 30 years and many compared his rule to that of a dictator.

Ghonim has risen to heroic status in Egypt and is seen as an example of the young, tech savvy Egyptians at the core of the nation's revolution toward democracy.

Schmidt, who is set to step down as chief executive in April to make way for Google co-founder Larry Page, said in Barcelona that collaborative technologies such as Facebook "change the power dynamics between governments and citizens." Schmidt will remain at Google as company chairman.

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Eric Schmidt, Google's outgoing CEO, close to landing a book deal

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Top photo: Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt speaks at the 2011 Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 15. Credit: Toni Albir / EPA

Bottom Photo: Egyptian cyberactivist and Google executive Wael Ghonim speaks with the media at Cairo's Tahrir square on Feb. 8, the day after his release from 12 days in custody by the Egyptian security service. Credit: Khaled Desouki / AFP/Getty Images

 
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