Google Exec Freed in Egypt
Wael Ghonim emerging as key figure in movement
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2011 5:26 AM CST
Updated Feb 7, 2011 12:59 PM CST
Wael Ghonim, a Google executive based in the Middle East who went missing Jan. 28, has become a key figure in protests.    (Google Website: http://sitescontent.google.com/gegypt/speakers)

(Newser) – Egyptian authorities released Google's top executive in the Middle East today, after secretly detaining him for more than a week, the Wall Street Journal reports. The executive, Wael Ghonim, has emerged as a key opposition figure in the massive protests against the Mubarak administration, according to the Journal. Protest organizers in Cairo chose Ghonim as a symbol for their movement after he disappeared on Jan. 28, writing his name on homemade signs, saying they would not leave the central Tahrir Square until he was freed.

Though it's unclear whether Ghonim played a role in organizing the protests, he has long stirred opposition to Mubarak's government online. Last year, Ghonim was one of four people running a Facebook page that served as a virtual HQ for the opposition. He also volunteered to help with opposition websites and set up the official site for Mohamed ElBaradei. "I said one year ago that the Internet will change the political scene in Egypt and some Friends made fun of me :)," wrote Ghonim on his Facebook page—the day before he disappeared.