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Egypt: Activist Says Security Services Assigned Informant to Watch Him

In his first public appearance since his return to Egypt last year, a political activist has revealed the details of his arrest at the airport and the search of his luggage. Wael Ghonim gave the details in a live broadcast on his official Facebook page, while thousands of followers interacted with him.

Ghonim explained that he was held at the airport and someone called Mohamed searched his bag and even his undergarments. The political activist also said that an employee at the airport was using her phone and made him wait for 15 minutes, until he said sarcastically, “[If] I am staging a revolution, how can you keep me waiting?”

He also alleged that the Egyptian security service sent an “informant” to follow him and watch him when he went to eat at a well-known restaurant near where he was staying. He managed to identify him with the help of one of the restaurant staff, who told him that someone was spying on him there. When he called an unidentified person to ask about the spy, he was apparently told that, “The informant is protecting you, Wael.”

The security services, said Ghonim, told him to move freely in Egypt and to do whatever he wanted without fear. He has attracted a lot of attention and interaction on social media.

Ghonim returned to Egypt on 10 September last year. He is forever associated with the webpage “We are all Khaled Said” which appeared in mid-2010 after the death of the Alexandrian youth Khaled Said in a police station. The incident sparked anger towards the Egyptian police. At the time, the police denied their involvement in his death, despite the circulation of pictures showing the young man’s severe injuries. The page later contributed to mobilising Egyptians to take part in demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak’s rule on 25 January 2011 before Mubarak stepped down two weeks later.

Ghonim was not known before these events, but he became a familiar face associated with the Egyptian revolution, especially after his arrest during the demonstrations and his appearance on television when he cried over the deaths during confrontations with the security forces.

In 2014, Ghonim said that he had stayed away from the political scene since 3 July 2013, when the army announced the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. “I did not want to be a party to sedition in which the blood of Egyptians is shed,” he explained.

The political activist stopped appearing until September 2019, when he posted video clips demanding the release of his brother, Dr Hazem Ghonim, who said he was arrested after comments about the political situation in the country on social media. At that time, Wael Ghonim declared that he was depressed. While he criticised the government and President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, he expressed his willingness to kiss the president’s hand in order to bring about reconciliation in Egypt.

Source: Middle East Monitor