Missing Google exec released by Egypt authorities

Google executive Wael Ghonim, who went missing from the Egyptian capital Cairo more than a week ago, has been released, according to a report by television channel Al Arabiya.

Ghonim, Google's head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, had not been seen since 26th January, leading the company to launch a public appeal for information leading to his return.

In addition to being the search giant's top marketing man in the Middle East, Ghonim is an internet activist and outspoken critic of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in the days leading up to recent pro-democracy unrest.

Usually based in Dubai, Ghonim was snatched by Egyptian authorities after he returned to Cairo for a conference.

The Google exec disappeared the night before what government opponents called a "Day of Rage", with violent clashes between police and protesters.

Concerns were expressed for Ghonim's safety after footage appearing to show him being arrested by plainclothed agents was spotted on a Sky News report (at 1:09).

Those fears were lifted after family members and others reported on Sunday that they had received a number of phone calls from the Egyptian authorities, confirming that he would be released today.

"Wael is going to be released tomorrow at 4pm, several people from the authorities ... called us to tell us," Ghonim's brother Hazem told The Wall Street Journal in a telephone interview.

Since his disappearance, Ghonim has become a symbol of the Mubarak regime's suppression of dissent, which has seen Egypt's internet access cut off, TV station al-Jazeera banned from broadcasting in the country, and mobile phone operators forced to send pro-Mubarak propaganda via SMS.