Missing Google marketing executive Wael Ghonim has been released from Egyptian custody, according to the U.S. State Department.
“We have indeed received confirmation of his release,” State Department spokesperson Mark Toner tells the Wall Street Journal.
The report confirms earlier news that Ghonim was being detained by government authorities in Egypt, and would be released today.
Mr. Ghonim disappeared on January 28, amidst protests in Cairo, Egypt, and the five-day Internet blackout that followed. The Google executive was reportedly one of the primary leaders in the movement of Internet activists who sparked the wave of protests that continue to rock Egypt’s political system. He is also believed to be the anonymous host of the Facebook page that first called for protests to begin on January 25.
Google had been actively searching for Ghonim since February 1, when they released a public statement, which included a phone number to call, if anyone had information about their employee’s whereabouts.
After reports that he’d gone missing went public, Ghonim quickly became a symbol of the anti-government movement in Egypt. Video of Ghonim reportedly being detained by Egyptian plainclothes officers, which was posted by Al Jazeera English to its website on February 5, further elevated his status as a hero in the Middle Eastern country’s movement to establish a democratically elected government there.
Mr. Ghonim is said to be just one in a group of technology consultants who voluntarily worked for Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei. At least seven of those in the group, aside from Ghonim, were detained by authorities, and subsequently released.
Followers and fans of Mr. Ghonim are anxiously awaiting a message from him via his Twitter feed, which has remained silent since an ominous January 27 post that read: “Pray for #Egypt. Very worried as it seems that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people. We are all ready to die #Jan25”
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