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Egyptian activist Wael Ghonim says security forces 'kidnapped' his brother

In frantic video, Ghonim - who lives in California - says his brother was not politically active
Ghonim was named one of 100 most influential people in world by Time Magazine in 2011 (AFP/File photo)

Prominent Egyptian activist Wael Ghonim is frantically calling for the release of his brother, who he said was "kidnapped" by security forces in Egypt.

In a video posted on Facebook on Thursday, Ghonim, a computer engineer credited with helping kickstart the 2011 revolution against Hosni Mubarak, said Egyptian security forces kidnapped his brother, Hazem - a dentist - after he refused to cooperate with them.

Appearing emotional and panicked, Ghonim, who lives in California, said he had received a call from Cairo's embassy in Washington asking him to stop his criticism of the Egyptian government in exchange for money and the ability to return to Egypt safely.

In an expletive-laden tirade, Ghonim said his brother was "kidnapped" as retaliation when he rejected the Egyptian authorities' demands for his silence.

"They arrested him to actually get me to stop talking, but guess what: I am speaking; I am speaking… Sisi is a dictator because he arrested my brother, and he arrested a lot of my brothers and sisters and he's putting them in jail," he said in English before switching to Arabic to call on the Egyptian people to "wake up". 

Ghonim also threatened Egyptian intelligence officials if they don't release his brother Hazem, who he said is not politically active.

"The Egyptian State Security arrested my brother, Hazem Ghonim, after I rejected their request to go silent or work with them. Shame on you Sisi. You will pay a huge price," he later wrote on Twitter.

Since seizing power in a 2013 coup, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has embarked on a massive campaign of repression, jailing as many as 60,000 dissidents.

Ghonim, who was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2011, addressed US President Donald Trump in a tweet on Thursday, saying his daughter is distressed because her uncle is in jail.

Trump has been a close ally of Sisi, repeatedly lauding the Egyptian president despite Cairo's well-documented human rights abuses.

Ghonim also sent a tweet to the United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, whose country has been a major backer of the Egyptian government.

"Intelligence [agents] kidnapped my brother after they threatened me yesterday if I don't shut up. Are you OK with this, Abdullah bin Zayed?" he wrote in Arabic, including the foreign minister's Twitter handle. "Hazem is a beautiful young man. If you see him, you'd like him. He's not crazy like me." 

Later on Thursday, Ghonim appeared shirtless and clearly distraught in a live Facebook broadcast where he admonished Egyptian authorities and urged followers to use the hashtag #SaveHazem.