Kidnapped Google exec tells of Egypt ordeal

CAIRO - The young Egyptian Google executive who was arrested during protests against President Hosni Mubarak has spoken of his 12-day ordeal arrested and blindfolded by the feared state security services.

In an emotionally charged interview with Egypt's Dream 2 television channel, Wael Ghonim, the internet search giant's head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa wept as he remembered those killed in two weeks of protests.

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 rights activists.

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 around 300 people have so far died, according to United Nations estimates.

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

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

When the channel showed images of some of the young people killed during the protests, Ghonim bowed his head and wept.

"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.

- AFP

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