This weekend, EFF learned that Bassel Khartabil, a longtime member of the open source software community and Creative Commons volunteer, has been detained in Syria since March 12, 2012, as part of a wave of arrests made in the Mazzeh district of Damascus. For months, Bassel’s family has had no knowledge of his whereabouts or the reason for his arrest. Only recently have they heard from previous detainees at Kafar Sousa that he is being held at this location. This news is especially alarming in light of a recent Human Rights Watch report documenting the use of torture in 27 detention facilities run by Syrian intelligence agencies.
In addition to his work as technical director on several projects, including efforts to restore the Palmyra Atoll and the publication of Forward Syria Magazine, Bassel contributed his time and expertise to countless organizations including Creative Commons, Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, the Open Clip Art Library, Fabricatorz, Sharism, and the Arabloggers community.
More than a thousand people from all over the world have already signed a letter of support for Bassel addressed to the Syrian government, requesting information about his detention, health, and psychological state, and demanding his immediate release. They are also tweeting their support using the #freebassel hashtag. EFF joins Bassel’s friends, family, and colleagues in calling for his release and condemns the Syrian government, which has held him for almost four months without charges or a trial.