Middle East News
Freed Google exec blames government for deaths in Egypt revolt
Feb 8, 2011, 0:05 GMT
Cairo - Egyptian Google executive Wael Ghoneim late Monday blamed the government for the deaths of protesters, in his first interview after his release from jail just hours earlier.
After seeing photos for the first time of some of the young men who died in clashes during the last two weeks, Ghoneim tearfully said: 'I swear to God it wasn't our fault. It's the fault of everyone in power who governed. I need to leave,' he said as he walked off camera, unable to speak.
The United Nations reported that at least 300 people were killed nationwide in clashes. Human Rights Watch told the German Press Agency dpa that this count of the death toll is 'safe and conservative.'
The government has yet to release its own official tally of those who died in the last 14 days of nationwide protests.
Ghoneim's interview, with Egypt's famed presenter Mona Shazly on the privately owned satellite channel Dream, was well-received by thousands of Egyptian viewers.
'Wael Ghoneim just became the mayor of Tahrir Square,' people wrote on Twitter, referring to the protesters' Cairo hub for pro- democracy demonstrations.
Others Twittered that their relatives said they would join a planned protest Tuesday in Tahrir after seeing the Ghoneim interview.
Protesters are calling for 1 million people to rally Tuesday on the famed square, where hundreds continue to camp overnight after two weeks of protests calling for the ouster of President Hosny Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for nearly 30 years.
'I don't want anything,' Ghoneim said. 'The one thing that hurt me the most was that people knew I was imprisoned, because I'm not the hero. I just typed on a keyboard. I didn't expose myself to violence.'
Ghoneim, a father of two, said he was blindfolded for 12 days while imprisoned.
Upon his release from prison late Monday, he wrote on Twitter: 'Freedom is a blessing that deserves fighting for.'
There was speculation that he may have been behind the Facebook page that called for the January 25 protest, which kickstarted the largest anti-government protests since Mubarak took power.
'It is forbidden, forbidden, forbidden, that my dad sees with one eye and, hey, may lose the other, not knowing where his son was for 12 days. You want to arrest me, there are laws, charges and accusations at least,' he said.
Ghoneim is one of the founders of a Facebook page for Khaled Said, the 28-year-old who died after police beat him to death.
The officers in that case have been charged with abuse but not murder. The case sparked outrage and led to large demonstrations against what many activists argue is an attempted police cover-up.
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