Bassel Khartabil Safadi, a Syrian open source developer and pro-democracy activist, has completed 9 months in jail.
His friends and family published a press release [ar] on his Facebook support page earlier last week, recounting Bassel's ordeal:
Bassel has been arrested on March 15 in the Mazeh area, following an ambush by the Syrian security forces. After spending 8 months in a security prison, Bassel was transferred to the military police headquarters in Kaboun. On Nov 13, he was again transferred to Adra jail, before being transported, on December 6, to a military court: Mahkama Midaniyah (المحكمة الميدانية).
Bassel’s political activities have always been limited to peaceful protests.
The court he was transferred to is a “special court”, operating above the law. It was specifically established to try members of the armed forces[, not civilians].
Ironically, the Syrian government passed a law in April 2011 lifting the country's decades-long emergency laws. According to the new law, special courts should have been abolished.
Bassel has no access to a defense lawyer. Any decisions or rulings upheld by the court –and they are notoriously harsh– cannot be subject to an appeal.
Bassel's lawyer, who also happens to be his fiancé, was denied information about his whereabouts or his health situation.
According to Oussama Refai [ar], a relative of Bassel's, 100 more detainees were also taken to the same court.
More about Bassel
Bassel is an open source software developer. He is known globally for his strong commitment to an open and free web. He was ranked 19 on Foreign Policy's list of the top 100 global thinkers this year. He pioneered in advocating for a wider use of Creative Commons licenses [ar] in the Arab world. He is one of the people behind the software company Fabricatorz, where his colleagues are launching a campaign asking for his release.
Bassel latest focus was on Aiki Lab, a hackerspace he founded in the summer of 2010 in Damascus. It was shut down by the Syrian government following the uprising.
Bassel is his parents’ only child, and was supposed to be married last April. His arrest changed his plans and interrupted his life.
He's a good friend of this author who fears for his life and asks for his immediate release.
What can be done for Bassel
Friends and colleagues of Bassel are launching the #FastForBassel campaign on Twitter. The idea is to fast for a day, blog and tweet about it as a way of showing support for Bassel and other political prisoners in Syria and calling for their immediate release.
You can tweet under the #FreeBassel hashtag and show your support.
You can “like” his Facebook support page and share its content.
You can also reach out to the media and human rights organizations and tell Bassel's story to the world.