On 1 August 2017, Bassel Khartabil Safadi’s wife, Noura Ghazi Safadi, announced confirmation that her husband had been executed in October 2015, shortly after he had been removed from the notorious Adra prison. Days before his wedding in 2012, Bassel was detained and forcibly disappeared by the Syrian regime. A huge online #FreeBassel campaign was mounted for his release and after surviving solitary confinement and torture he resurfaced in Adra, a Syrian state prison.
Bassel Kharbatil, also known as Bassel Safadi, was a Palestinian-Syrian open-source software developer. Bassel was interrogated and allegedly tortured for five days by Military Branch 215. Security forces raided Khartabil’s house, confiscating his computer and other effects. He was then transferred to the Interrogation Division Branch 248 and detained there incommunicado for nine months. On December 9, 2012, Khartabil was brought to a hearing before a military prosecutor without an attorney present, and accused of “harming state security”.
Before the civil war erupted, Bassel worked tirelessly to open up Syria – where censorship is rife – to internet access, bringing together engineers and democracy campaigners through his Aiki Lab project, and working on open software projects with Wikipedia and Creative Commons. After the revolution began his work became even more important, giving demonstrators and activists the tools to communicate and broadcast news through social media.
Bassel had served as project lead and public affiliate for Creative Commons Syria and is credited with opening up the Internet in Syria and vastly extending online access and knowledge to the Syrian people. He was lauded internationally “for insisting, against all the odds, on a peaceful Syrian revolution”.