Activist: Egyptian authorities arrest brother to silence me

FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2011 file photo, Egyptian Wael Ghonim, center, talks to the crowd in Tahrir Square, in Cairo, Egypt. Ghonim said late Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in a video on his twitter account that authorities raided his parents' house in Cairo and arrested his brother Hazem, whom he described as "a political person" and confiscated his parents' passports. Ghonim alleges that the Egyptian embassy in the U.S. threatened him the previous day "something will happen" if he didn't stop criticizing Egypt's government on social media. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill, File)
FILE - In this April 26, 2011 file photo, Egyptian Internet Activist Wael Ghonim attends the Time 100 Gala, celebrating the 100 most influential people in the world in New York. Ghonim said late Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in a video on his twitter account that authorities raided his parents' house in Cairo and arrested his brother Hazem, whom he described as "a political person" and confiscated his parents' passports. Ghonim alleges that the Egyptian embassy in the U.S. threatened him the previous day "something will happen" if he didn't stop criticizing Egypt's government on social media. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)
FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2011 file photo, Egyptian Wael Ghonim, center, walks into Tahrir Square after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's televised statement to his nation, in downtown Cairo, Egypt. Ghonim said late Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in a video on his twitter account that authorities raided his parents' house in Cairo and arrested his brother Hazem, whom he described as "a political person" and confiscated his parents' passports. Ghonim alleges that the Egyptian embassy in the U.S. threatened him the previous day "something will happen" if he didn't stop criticizing Egypt's government on social media. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

CAIRO — The U.S.-based Egyptian activist whose Facebook page helped ignite the 2011 pro-democracy uprising said authorities have arrested his brother in Cairo.

Wael Ghonim, a computer engineer, said his criticism of Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi prompted authorities to retaliate by detaining his brother and threatening his parents.

Ghonim alleged that the Egyptian Embassy in Washington sent him threats the day before the arrest.

"They told me if I did not stop speaking, something will happen," Ghonem said in a video posted on Twitter late Thursday.

He said authorities raided his parents' home and arrested his brother Hazem, whom he described as an "apolitical person," and confiscated his parents' passports and phones.

"They threatened my dad that if I do not stop insulting them, they will escalate," Ghonim said.

The arrest came as Egyptian social media was awash with calls for anti-government protests Friday. Videos posted by a self-exiled businessman recently claimed large-scale corruption by the military and government, allegations el-Sissi dismissed as "lies."

Egypt outlawed all unauthorized protests in 2013. That's when el-Sissi, as defense minister, led the military's overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president amid mass protests against his brief rule.

The government crackdown that followed has rolled back the freedoms won in 2011. Tens of thousands of Egyptians have been arrested since 2013, and many had fled the country.

Wael Ghonim was one of the many activists who went into in self-exile. He was one of the young Egyptians who had used social media to mobilize widespread protests in 2011, which brought down longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak amid the wave of so-called Arab Spring uprisings. At the time, Ghonim was venerated by different pro-democracy groups as a revolutionary figure.

In recent days, Ghonim has reemerged to the forefront of the social media with videos voicing criticism of el-Sissi's government.

In his latest video, Ghonim spoke in English and called upon "the international community" to help him save his brother.

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