Politics & Policy

Ghonim Released

El Aribya is reporting that Wale Ghonim, the Google executive arrested on January 28th (see video below) has been released:

Egyptian telecoms tycoon Naguib Sawiris said on Sunday that authorities had promised him a Google Inc executive missing in Cairo would be freed on Monday.Sawiris told a television satellite channel he owns that he had asked for Wael Ghonim’s release during talks with Vice President Omar Suleiman on Sunday, alongside opposition groups, to try to end the country’s political turmoil.It was not immediately clear who might be holding Ghonim, Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, who the company said had not been seen since Jan. 27.

Sawiris said he had been promised Ghomin would be released at 4 p.m. (1400 GMT), said a spokeswoman for Orascom Telecom, which Sawiris is chairman of, confirming his comments to the television station.Google began a public search for Ghonim last week, giving out a telephone number for information about him.On Jan. 27, Ghonim was apparently circumventing a government shutdown of the Internet – a post on a Twitter account listed under his name said: “Very worried as it seems that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people. We are all ready to die.” Ghonim showed solidarity with protesters rallying against President Hosni Mubarak.A YouTube video of a street protest shows the detention of a man resembling Ghonim. In the footage, men in plainclothes approach a line of protesters and grab the man identified as Ghonim, hustling him through a gap in a squad of riot police.Google launched a service for Egypt to allow people to dial a telephone number and leave a voice mail which would then be sent on Twitter and could be heard on telephones to try to work around Internet restrictions imposed by the government when the protests gathered pace.

I can’t understand the regime’s tactics here. They seem to be detaining journalists, human-rights activists, and protesters just long enough to induce complaints of human-rights abuses, but no long enough to actually effectively shut anybody up. Same with the police: they’ve been just brutal enough to galvanize the opposition, without being able to actually suppress the opposition.

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