Monday, February 14, 2011

Google executive kissed soldiers on release

Feb 14, 2011

WASHINGTON - RELEASED after 12 days in custody, Egyptian cyber activist Wael Ghonim kissed the soldiers who had kept him blindfolded and given him the occasional beating.

'I removed my blindfold and I said, 'Hi,' and kissed every one of them,' the Google marketing executive for the Middle East said in an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes aired on Sunday. 'All of the soldiers.'

'And, you know, it was good,' said Mr Ghonim, who emerged as a leader of the street protests which brought down President Hosni Mubarak. 'I was sending them a message.' The 30-year-old Mr Ghonim said the beatings were 'not systematic.' 'It was individual based, like, and it was not from the officers,' he said.

'It was actually from the soldiers. And I forgive them, I have to say. I forgive them, because one thing is that they were convinced that I was harming the country,' he said. 'I'm sort of like a traitor, I'm destabilising the country.

'So when he hits me, he doesn't hit me because... he's a bad guy. He's hitting me because he thinks he's a good guy,' he said. Mr Ghonim, who started a Facebook page, 'We Are All Khaled Said,' that has been credited with helping mobilise the demonstrators, said the protests which led to Mr Mubarak's ouster would not have happened without online social networks.

'If there was no social networks it would have never been sparked,' he said. 'Because the whole thing before the revolution was the most critical thing. 'Without Facebook, without Twitter, without Google, without You Tube, this would have never happened,' Mr Ghonim said. -- AFP

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