Syria: Syria: Free Bassel Khartabil held in arbitrary detention since 15 March 2012


On 15 March 2012, information technology expert Bassel Khartabil was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus. According to Bassel Khartabil’s relatives, approximately two months ago, in October 2012, Bassel Khatabil was transferred temporarily to Adraa prison where his family had direct contact with him. He informed them that he was held in Adraa on account of a field court order.  

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses huge concern about his physical and psychological well-being, due to the imminent risk for any prisoner in Syria to be tortured. Also, a field court strips Bassel Khartabil of his right for defense, and there are no appeals to the verdict. The trials are conducted in secret and sentences may include the capital punishment which is the death penalty.

On 3 July 2012 the “Free Bassel” campaign was launched calling for his release. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) calls on the international community to join the campaign and to demand that his arbitrary detention be ended immediately.

Bassel Khartabil is an information technology teacher and computer engineer specializing in open source software development. He is a well-known contributor to global software and culture communities like Creative Commons, Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, Open Clip Art Library, Fabricatorz, and Sharism.

Bassel Khartabil has been in detention for ten months, however, no information has yet been released by the authorities concerning any charges against him. Despite their on-going efforts his family have been denied any contact with him or information concerning his condition. It was recently revealed that he is being held in Kafer Sousa security detention branch 291. This information has caused great concern for his physical and psychological safety, as detainees held there have been subjected to torture and inhumane treatment as uncovered in the recent Human Rights Watch report “ Syria: Torture Centres revealed”.

The GCHR believes that the arrest of Bassel Khartabil and his on-going detention are directly related to his work in relation to information sharing and in promoting freedom of information and expression. The GCHR calls on the international community to join the campaign to secure his release by logging onto, and signing the letter demanding the Syrian authorities to ensure his immediate release.