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Bassel Khartabil Report


Bassel Khartabil, Palestinian-Syrian born May 22, 1981, is an open-source software developer and computer engineer.  Bassel was arrested by Military Security Branch 215 in the Mezze neighborhood of Damascus on March 15, 2012.  He was subjected to interrogation and torture.  Prior to his arrest, Bassel had been accused by the Syrian government of “harming state security”.  He worked unceasingly to promote freedom of speech and open access to the Internet, undoubtedly the impetus for the regime’s accusations.  Bassel was arrested on the one-year anniversary of the Syrian uprising, a day of widespread protests and demonstrations throughout Damascus and other parts of Syria. 



Bassel was presented without an attorney at a hearing before a military prosecutor on December 9, 2012.  It was then that he was sentenced indefinitely to time at Adra Prison in Damascus. 



Over the past two and a half years, countless activists, human rights and other non-profit organizations, and even international press have been part of a global campaign calling for the disclosure of Bassel’s whereabouts, as well as his immediate release.  Supporters include, but are not limited to Human Rights Watch, Creative Commons, Amnesty International, Mozilla Firefox, Al Jazeera, Hackernews, Lawrence Lessig, Joi Ito, Mohamed Nanabhay, and Mitchell Baker.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared Bassel’s detention arbitrary and a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on April 21, 2015 and called for his immediate release. 



On October 3, 2015 Bassel was transferred to an undisclosed location.  It is possible that he was moved from Adra Prison, where he had been detained since December 2012, to be judged by a military court.  Rumor leaked on November 11, 2015 that Bassel has been sentenced to death.



During Bassel’s years as an activist and software developer, he achieved significant success for the open-source movement.  He co-founded Aiki Lab, a hacker-space/collaborative technology and art space in Damascus.  He spearheaded Creative Commons Syria and consistently contributed code and content to groups such as Mozilla, Wikipedia, and the Open Font and Open Clipart Libraries.  Most recently, Bassel was invited by MIT to work as a research scientist in their Center for Civic Media.  In this role, Bassel would be able to carry out his vision of building 3D models of the ancient city of Palmyra, the ruins of which have since been destroyed by ISIS.    


Justice for Detainees has been in on-going, direct communication with Bassel’s wife, Noura Ghazi Safadi.  Noura, a human rights attorney and activist, has expressed great concern for her husband’s life.  Her concern spiked after learning of the rumors surrounding his latest sentence.  Noura shared that Bassel was arrested two weeks before their marriage.  In January 2013, Noura and Bassel’s marriage contract was made official from inside Adra Prison.  Today, Noura continues to fight for her husband’s freedom.

Justice for Detainees stands with many other organizations to demand the release of Bassel Khartabil.  Please join JDS in our call for clemency.  Bassel’s situation is dire and urgent.  Please pass this information on to your contacts, especially any government officials or stakeholders.  Ask that they reach out to Syrian authorities and urge them to disclose information on Bassel’s condition and whereabouts to his family and legal representatives.  Ask that they ensure the safety of our beloved, non-violent activist Bassel Khartabil.      


Contact Information for JDS:

Hiam Altali, Founder and Chairperson of the Board of Directors;, 774-253-4455.

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