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EGYPT: Google staffer and cyber activist reacts to Mubarak ouster

February 11, 2011 | 10:35 am

Ghonim-1 Wael Ghonim, 30, the Google executive and cyber activist who in recent days has become the face of the Egyptian revolt, watched television with friends in his mother's living room Friday as his country's new vice president announced that President Hosni Mubarak was stepping down.

They jumped out of their chairs, screaming with joy.

"Long live Egypt!" they shouted in unison in genuine surprise, clapping their hands.

Ghonim's mother rushed into her son's arms and he lifted her up.

"You did it! You did it!" she shouted. His friends shouted "Wael! Wael!"

Ghonim ran around the room and fingered a keyboard for a minute. Finally, he said, "We did it."

Then they all sang the national anthem.

Ghonim-2 Later, Ghonim tweeted "Welcome back Egypt."

"Today is a day for celebration," Ghonim later told CNN in a live interview. "Today I think the real problem is solved."

Ghonim, who had been detained for 12 days by Egyptian security forces after participating in early protests, told CNN he was no longer afraid of the secret police.

"We are much stronger than all these guys," he said. "Egypt is going to be a democratic state."

Ghonim said he plans to write a book, "Revolution 2.0," and return to work for Google. He told CNN he does not intend to seek political office in the new government, and deflected praise to those who died during the recent protests.

"Those people are the real heroes," he said, adding that many protesters also remain in police custody.

"There are about a thousand people who no one knows where they are right now. We want them back."

Ghonim told CNN he believes his fellow Egyptians will form a truly democratic government.

"I trust that these people in the street have broken the psychological barrier and will ensure that anyone in power will work on the people's agenda," he said, adding that he trusts that the Egyptian military "really wants the safety of Egypt" and that they will "respect out demands," calling them "trustworthy."

Ghonim also credited social media with fueling the protests and allowing them to convey the urgency of their message to the world.

What's next?

"Ask Facebook," Ghonim told CNN. "I want to meet Mark Zuckerberg one day and thank him."

--  Ned Parker and Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photos, from top: Google executive and political activist Wael Ghonim hugs his mother minutes after learning Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down; Ghonim and his companions  run down the street yelling "Mubarak has stepped down!" minutes after hearing the news that the president has left office. Credit: Ned Parker/Los Angeles Times