Google MENA Marketing Executive Wael Ghonim gave a brief interview to Egypt’s On TV after his release from jail earlier today. Ghonim had been detained blindfolded for 12 days for organizing protests against the Mubarak government. Here’s the loosely translated transcript.
“Firstly, I’d like to give me condolences to the families of the Egyptians who died, I give my condolences to them. I can’t say that I apologize because no protester broke anything, all protests were peaceful and our motto was “Do Not Break.” Second of all I want to say please don’t make a hero out of me, on the contrary I’m a person who was sleeping for 12 days. The real heros are the people on the ground, please direct the camera and give the attention to those people. And God willing we will change this country. Also I am alright thank God.”
You can watch the entire thing with English subtitles here.
Ghonim gave a longer interview to Dream TV where he reveals that he tricked Google so he could attend the protests, admits that he was the administrator of the Facebook page commemorating the death of 28-year-old Khaled Said and calls the thousands that attended the protests “Facebook youth,” referring to himself humbly as someone who “only used the keyboard.” Here he details his abduction.
“On Thursday night, at 1am I was with a friend, a colleague from work. I was taking a taxi, suddenly four people surrounded the car, I yelled “Help me, Help me” I was blindfolded then taken away. I will say this as it is: nothing justifies kidnapping, you can arrest me by the law, I am not a drug dealer or terrorist.”
Later in the interview Ghonim broke down crying when he saw pictures of protestors who had died. Impressively, The National’s Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi live-tweeted the entire interview, which I’ve embedded here.
I tricked my employer so I could attend the protests in Egypt. I am not a traitor. I don’t need anything from anyone.
I am not a hero. I was only used the keyboard, the real heroes are the ones on the ground. Those I can’t name. This is the season where people use the word traitor against each other. I wasn’t abused, I was jailed, kidnapped. I met some really intellectual people in jail, they actually thought that we were traitors, working for others. If I was a traitor I would have stayed by the swimming pool in my house in the UAE. What are called the “facebook youth” went out in their tens of thousands on January 25th, talk to them. This is the era where people who have good intentions are considered traitors.
My wife was going to divorce me because I didn’t spend time with her, and now they call me a traitor. I spent all my time on the computer working for my country. I wasn’t optimistic on the 25th but now I can’t believe it. Thanks to everyone who tried to get me out of jail. It’s Haram (sinful, not right) for my father to lose his sight in one eye and now is at risk of losing it in the other. I kept thinking “are people thinking of me?” I was wondering if my family knew where I was, my wife, dad, mother.
I am proud of what I did. This is not the time to settle scores. Although I have people I want to settle scores with myself. This is not the time to split the pie & enforce ideologies. The secret to the success of the facebook page was use of surveys.
I met with the Minister of Interior today. He was sat like any other citizen. He spoke to me like an equal. I respected that. The youth on the streets made Dr Hossam Badrawi (General Secretary of NDP) drive me to my house today. They transfered me to state security, it’s a kidnapping. On Thursday night, at 1am I was with a friend, a colleague from work. I was taking a taxi, suddenly four people surrounded the car, I yelled “Help me, Help me” I was blindfolded then taken away. I will say this as it is: nothing justifies kidnapping, you can arrest me by the law, I am not a drug dealer or terrorist.
Inside I met people who loved Egypt (State Security people) but their methods & mine are not the same. I pay these guys salaries from my taxes, I have the right to ask the ministers where my money is going, this is our country. I believe that if things get better those (good state security people he met) will serve Egypt well. Don’t stand in our way, we are going to serve Egypt. I saw a film director get slapped, they told him “You will die here” Why?
Now they want to have an agreement with me when they are in a position of weakness. I am not a hero, I am a normal person. What happened to me was a crime but I still thank those who tried to got me out, I am an educated person, I have a family. Badrawi told me we took all the bad people out from the NDP. I told him I don’t want to see the logo of the NDP ever again. The NDP is got this country to where it is. You can create a new party. It looks like I might be kidnapped again after this.
There were 300 fake registrations on my facebook page, all negative comments, about how we were allegedly being paid. I was the admin of the page but others paid for it. We are dreamers (says it in English). There was no Muslim Brotherhood presence in organising these protests, it was all spontaneous, voluntary. Even when the Muslim Brotherhood decided to take part it was their choice to do so. This belongs to Egyptian youth.
Please everyone, enough rumours. Enough.
I told the Interior Minister – I was upset – I told him I will go in the car with Hossam Badrawi but without an NDP logo. I told them we don’t want any NDP logo on the streets. I cried when I heard that there are people who died, officers and protesters, this is my country.
I was chatting with Ahmad Maher of 6th of April Youth Movement about the Jan 25 protests but he didn’t know who I was. My wife is an American, I can apply for US citizenship but I didn’t, not even the lottery. Many people want to leave though. We have to restore dignity to all Egyptians. We have to end corruption. No more theft. Egyptians are good people. We are a beautiful people. Please everybody, this is not a time to settle scores, this is a time to build our country.
I can’t claim I know what happened when I was inside. I didn’t know anything until one day before I left. The interrogators wanted to know if outsiders were involved. I convinced them this was a purely Egyptian movement. The treatment was very good, they knew I was a good Egyptian. I was blindfolded for 12 days, I didn’t see their faces. They wanted details, information. “Are the people who planned this outsiders?” We didn’t do anything wrong, this was an appeal.
I wrote an appeal to the president Egypt on Jan 25. I told the Minister of Interior we have two problems 1- We don’t talk to each other, this must be solved, 2- There is no trust. I told the Interior Minister if I stripped naked & told people that I was beaten even without marks they would believe me. The Egyptian State TV channels didn’t portray the truth, that is why people watch the private channels now.
There were several men in the room with me & the Minister of Interior. I asked him if I can speak about this he said as u wish. Everyone asked me “How did you do this?” The Interior Minister told me he was only a minister for 8 days. I was told that people died, one day before I was released.
( They are showing pictures of young people who died during the protests. Wael breaks down crying.)
Wael @Ghonim’s last words: I want to tell families who lost their sons this is not our fault. This is the fault of those clinging to power.
Many thanks to @SultanAlQassemi, a columnist for The National, based in the UAE, and prolific reporter on the #jan25 movement in #egypt