Free/open source programmer and Creative Commons activist Bassel Khartabil faces torture in notorious Syrian prison

Bassel Khartabil, a Palestinian free/open source developer and Creative Commons activist, has been in prison in Syria since June, and his colleagues around the world have been agitating for his release. Now, the news gets worse: a recently released fellow inmate reports that Khartabil has been subject to harsh treatment and torture in Syrian custody. From the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Eva Galperin:

According to a new Amnesty International report, a released detainee has informed Bassel Khartabil’s family that he is being held at the Military Intelligence Branch in Kafr Sousseh and had been tortured and otherwise ill-treated.

In response to this alarming news, Bassel's friends and supporters around the world have launched a letter-writing campaign, hoping to flood Syrian officials and diplomats with physical mail demanding that Khartabil be formally charged and given access to a lawyer or released immediately. Participants are encouraged to send photographs of their letters to

Torture Fears for Open Source Software Activist Detained in Syria

(Image: Bassel, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from joi's photostream)


    1. Indeed.  But I think what is needed as much as that is for people to just write a letter.  I know it sounds weak but letters work.  Torturers hate visibility.  They hate knowing they’re being watched.  Writing a letter may not feel heroic, but it is.

      And yes, I’ll be writing.

  1. I’d prefer we impose a no-fly-zone like we should have at the start. Shame that Russia likes selling weapons and China likes sitting on the fence to secure favourable position as Syria’s future importer of crap. The UN is a hopeless joke when it comes to dealing with stuff like this and any situation where we have to get Russia to cooperate will be a hopeless failure as they arm basically anyone with money, irrespective of morality.

    Apparently the best thing we can do is send MORE arms to the other guys, instead of taking from al-Assad his biggest tool for coordination of his troops: air support – not to mention reduce civilian deaths from his bombing campaign which he WILL be charged for as a crime against humanity (that is if he doesn’t end up being torn apart by a mob ala Gaddafi).

    I really feel for Mr. Khartabil because he likely would not be in his current position if the west hadn’t spent so long twiddling our thumbs, letting that thug Putin call the shots. A no-fly zone might cost some lives on our side, but for every person we lose, hundreds of Syrian civilians’ lives would’ve been saved. In any case, it seems to me that preventing killing is better than sending more arms (which is all we’re doing so far). The fact that the whole subject is unspoken of reflects the bullshit double-standards of international human rights.

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