Bassel Khartabil Safadi

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”.

Personal Recollections


Bassel Khartabil was arrested just days before he was due to be married and days later surfaced in Adra Prison. There, Noura and Bassel wed by exchanging vows through prison bars. Noura’s father placed the ring on her finger and Noura wore a blue dress, her favourite colour. Noura smuggled love poems to Bassel in prison, which she translated from Arabic to English and published in a book.

On hearing the news of her husband’s death Noura posted on Facebook:

“I am choking on the words as I announce today on my behalf and on behalf of Bassel’s family and my own, the confirmation of the death sentence and execution of my husband Bassel Khartabil Safadi.

He was executed just days after he was taken from Adra prison in October 2015… This is an end befitting of a hero like him.

“Thank you for killing my lover…
Thanks to you I was the bride of the revolution and thanks to you I am now a widow.
Oh Syria’s loss
Oh Palestine’s loss
Oh my loss…”

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Department/Province/State:Rif Dimashq



Date of Killing:01/10/2015

Previous Threats:No information

Type of Work:Journalist/communicator

Organisation: Creative Commons Syria

Sector or Type of Rights the HRD Worked On:Civil and Political Rights

Sector Detail:Abuse of power/corruption, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Association, Freedom of Expression

More information:Front Line Defenders

1This database records an individual's chosen gender identity. If they do not self-identify as male or female they can use the option of recording other/neither or use the term NBGI (non binary gender identity).