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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wael Ghonim Dream TV interview; English written translation, full transcript

Here is the full online text in English of the highly-publicized Wael Ghonim interview with Egypt's Dream TV. This interview took place after human rights activist and Google exec Mr. Ghonim had just been released, after spending 12 days in jail in Cairo.

Video of Egyptian authorities arresting Wael Ghonim

Arabic videos of Dream TV interview with Wael Ghonim

English translation of Wael Ghonim interview on Dream TV Egypt

Wael Ghonim:

“I am not a hero. I only used the keyboard, the real heroes are the ones on the ground. Those I can’t name. This is the season where people use the word traitor against each other. I wasn’t abused, I was jailed, kidnapped.

“I met some really intellectual people in jail, they actually thought that we were traitors, working for others. If I was a traitor I would have stayed by the swimming pool in my house in the UAE. What are called the “Facebook youth” went out in their tens of thousands on January 25th, talk to them. This is the era where people who have good intentions are considered traitors.

“I tricked my employer so I could attend the protests in Egypt. I am not a traitor. I don’t need anything from anyone.

“My wife was going to divorce me because I didn’t spend time with her, and now they call me a traitor. I spent all my time on the computer working for my country.
I wasn’t optimistic on the 25th but now I can’t believe it. Thanks to everyone who tried to get me out of jail. It’s haram [sinful, not right] for my father to lose his sight in one eye and now is at risk of losing it in the other. I kept thinking “are people thinking of me?” I was wondering if my family knew where I was, my wife, dad, mother.

“I am proud of what I did. This is not the time to settle scores. Although I have people I want to settle scores with myself. This is not the time to split the pie and enforce ideologies. The secret to the success of the facebook page was use of surveys.

“I met with the minister of interior today. He sat like any other citizen. He spoke to me like an equal. I respected that. The youth on the streets made Dr Hossam Badrawi [General Secretary of NDP] drive me to my house today.

“They transfered me to state security; it’s a kidnapping. On Thursday night, at 1am I was with a friend, a colleague from work. I was taking a taxi, suddenly four people surrounded the car, I yelled “Help me, help me”. I was blindfolded then taken away. I will say this as it is: nothing justifies kidnapping, you can arrest me by the law, I am not a drug dealer or terrorist.

“Inside I met people who loved Egypt [State Security people] but their methods and mine are not the same. I pay these guys’ salaries from my taxes, I have the right to ask the ministers where my money is going, this is our country.

“I believe that if things get better those (good state security people he met) will serve Egypt well. Don’t stand in our way, we are going to serve Egypt. I saw a film director get slapped, they told him “You will die here”. Why?

“Now they want to have an agreement with me when they are in a position of weakness. I am not a hero, I am a normal person. What happened to me was a crime but I still thank those who tried to got me out. I am an educated person, I have a family. Badrawi told me we took all the bad people out from the NDP. I told him I don’t want to see the logo of the NDP ever again.

“The NDP got this country to where it is. You can create a new party. It looks like I might be kidnapped again after this.

“There were 300 fake registrations on my facebook page, all negative comments, about how we were allegedly being paid. I was the admin of the page but others paid for it. We are dreamers.

“There was no Muslim Brotherhood presence in organising these protests, it was all spontaneous, voluntary. Even when the Muslim Brotherhood decided to take part it was their choice to do so. This belongs to the Egyptian youth.

“Please everyone, enough rumours. Enough.

“I told the interior minister – I was upset – I told him I will go in the car with Hossam Badrawi but without an NDP logo. I told them we don’t want any NDP logo on the streets. I cried when I heard that there are people who died, officers and protesters, this is my country. “I was chatting with Ahmad Maher of the 6th of April Youth Movement about the January 25 protests but he didn’t know who I was. My wife is an American, I can apply for US citizenship but I didn’t, not even the lottery. Many people want to leave though. We have to restore dignity to all Egyptians. We have to end corruption. No more theft. Egyptians are good people. We are a beautiful people. Please everybody, this is not a time to settle scores, this is a time to build our country.

“I can’t claim I know what happened when I was inside. I didn’t know anything until one day before I left. The interrogators wanted to know if outsiders were involved. I convinced them this was a purely Egyptian movement.

“The treatment was very good, they knew I was a good Egyptian. I was blindfolded for 12 days, I didn’t see their faces. They wanted details, information. ‘Are the people who planned this outsiders?’ We didn’t do anything wrong, this was an appeal.

“I wrote an appeal to the president of Egypt on Jan 25. I told the minister of interior we have two problems: 1- We don’t talk to each other, this must be solved, 2- There is no trust. I told the interior minister if I stripped naked and told people that I was beaten even without marks they would believe me. The Egyptian State TV channels didn’t portray the truth, that is why people watch the private channels now.

“There were several men in the room with me and the minister of interior. I asked him if I can speak about this, he said as you wish. Everyone asked me ‘How did you do this?’ The interior minister told me he was only a minister for eight days. I was told that people died, one day before I was released,” Ghonim said.

“I want to say to every mother and every father that lost his child, I am sorry, but this is not our fault. I swear to God, this is not our fault. It is the fault of everyone who was holding on to power greedily and would not let it go. I want to leave.”

Publisher's note: That last comment, "I want to leave", was stated while Wael was crying in frustration, and referred to leaving the interview studio, not the country. Wael returned to Tahrir Square the very next day, and told the gathered protesters to stay united and focus on one thing: Egypt.

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