CNN’s Hala Gorani is reporting that Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq has announced on Egyptian State TV that Google Middle East Marketing Director Wael Ghonim will be released tomorrow Monday at 4pm. This is in line with Egyptian telcom mogul Naguib Sawiris’ O TV statement that Ghonim would be freed on Monday as well.
Missing since Thursday the 27th, Ghonim is thought to have hosted the first Facebook page that organized the January 25th protests. He disappeared shortly after the following disconcerting tweet, “Very worried as it seems that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people. We are all ready to die.”
After his disappearance, Ghonim was chosen as symbolic spokesperson by an Egyptian opposition group as a tactic to speed up his release. A video of a man who may or may not have been Ghonim getting arrested by the police has also been making the rounds.
A source on the ground in Egypt tells me that the government has switched tactics as of late, instead of a complete information blackout it is using government controlled TV and press to influence popular opinion. Perhaps this is why Gorani hashtagged her above tweet with #Waitandsee?
Up until now, Google has confirmed that he is missing with the following statement:
“The safety of our employees is very important to Google, so if anyone has any information we’re asking that they please call the following U.K. number: +44 20 7031 3008. We are also using this email address (email@example.com) since the Internet is back on in Egypt.”
I’m still waiting to hear back from Google if there are any updates to this status after today’s news.