Egypt’s administrative court Sunday set a January 17 verdict date for a law suit demanding that activist Wael Ghonim be stripped of his Egyptian nationality on accusations of being an agent.
Ghonim found himself in the limelight in February 2011 after it emerged that he was the administrator of a Facebook page that called for protests on January 25, 2011 which sparked 18 days of protest in what later came to be known as the 2011 uprising.
The protests led to the ouster of then-president Hosni Mubarak, plunging Egypt into years of political turmoil.
The tech-savvy activist, a computer engineer who worked for Google at the time of the uprising, was initially hailed as a hero by many in Egypt especially after making an emotional appearance on private channel Dream.
Ghonim was among many arrested by the police during the deadly violence that erupted nationwide on the first days of the uprising and his television appearance came right after he was released after following 12 days in custody.
The visibly distressed Ghonim broke down in the interview and at one point said, “I am not a hero … the heroes are the ones who were in the streets. The heroes are the ones who went to the protests…”
In the aftermath of the uprising, many in the media opposed to the change, embarked on a campaign of character assassination, claiming that Ghonim like many other pro-democracy activists, was backed by foreign entities.
The Facebook page, which Ghonim ran, “We are all Khaled Said,” in memory of a young man who was brutally beaten to death while in police custody in July 2010. His death became the rallying cry for rising anti-authoritarian sentiment exacerbated by trumped-up claims that Said had choked on a hashish wrap, despite the emergence of pictures of his badly disfigured face clearly the result of a brutal beating.
The Facebook page, which signaled the start of an era where social media became increasingly important for popular mobilization in Egypt and elsewhere, has not been updated since July 3, 2013 when then-president Mohamed Mursi was removed from power by the military.
In January 2014, Ghonim said he is staying away from politics, in an announcement on his personal Facebook page.
The State Commissioners Authority has recommended that the court reject the case filed against him because of “absence of [public] interest.”
The authority said in a report that the Egyptian Cabinet alone has the right to revoke a citizen’s nationality based on a proposal from the interior minister, if the Cabinet sees this as serving the country’s supreme interests.