Egypt Google staffer faces risk of torture: Amnesty

Wael Ghoneim was arrested by Egyptian forces during protests last week.

Updated: Feb 07, 2011, 10:59 AM IST

Cairo: Rights watchdog Amnesty International said on Sunday that an Egyptian executive of the Google software giant who was snatched from the street during anti-government riots faces a serious risk of torture.

Wael Ghoneim was arrested by Egyptian security forces during protests on Friday and his whereabouts are unknown, Amnesty said, adding he "is facing a serious risk of torture and other ill-treatment by security forces”.

"The Egyptian authorities must immediately disclose where Wael Ghoneim is and release him or charge him with a recognisable criminal offence," said Amnesty`s regional deputy director, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Ghoneim, who is Google`s head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, travelled to Egypt on January 23, two days before massive nationwide rallies erupted demanding the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.

Witnesses said Ghoneim was seen being arrested in Cairo`s Mohandesseen area.

"He was snatched from the street by men in plainclothes who are believed to be state security officers and since then he`s been held in secret," Hadj Sahraoui said.

"So we don`t know who`s holding him, where he`s being held and he hasn`t had access to the outside world and these are the conditions that facilitate torture," she said.

Egyptian activists say state security services still use torture, with no sign their tactics are about to change despite the regime`s promise of reform.

Deadly protests demanding the end of Mubarak`s 30-year-rule have gone on for almost two weeks. According to UN estimates, at least 300 people have been killed, scores injured and an unknown number arrested.

Bureau Report