Net activist bassel khartabil from syria: the groom of the revolution

Software developer Bassel Khartabil is dead. According to his wife, the mid-30-year-old was executed by the Syrian regime two years ago.

Worked for Mozilla Firefox and Wikipedia: Bassel Khartabil Safadi, seen here in June 2010 Photo: dpa

The news of his execution did not come as a surprise. Bassel Khartabil Safadi had been missing for two years after being sentenced to death by the Syrian regime and taken to an unknown location. What happened to the net activist and software developer afterwards is known only to the jailers of dictator Assad.

Now there is sad certainty. "It is difficult to find words," posted his wife Noura Ghazi Safadi on Facebook on Tuesday. Her husband had already been killed in October 2015, she said. "Because of you, I was the bride of the revolution," she wrote to the regime, "and because of you, I have become a widow. This is the end that a hero deserves.

Several human rights organizations as well as an activist from the "Free Bassel" campaign, which had campaigned for the activist’s release, confirmed the murder to the taz.

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Born in 1981 as the child of Palestinian refugees in Syria, he specialized in the development of free software. Among other things, he was a contributor to the Internet browser Mozilla Firefox and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. The U.S. magazine Foreign Policy listed him as number 19 of the 100 most influential thinkers of the year in the year of his arrest.

Bassel Khartabil on Twitter

"People who are in real danger never leave their country."

In March 2012, just a year after the first protests in Syria, Syrian regime forces had arrested Bassel Khartabil Safadi. A short time later, activists launched the "Free Bassel" campaign; Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also drew attention to the fate of the well-connected software developer.

It is now certain that he, too, is among the estimated 18,000 people the Assad regime has had killed in Syrian prisons since the conflict began in 2011.

One of Bassel Khartabil Safadi’s last tweets before his arrest read: "People who are in real danger never leave their country. There are reasons why they’re in danger, and that’s why they don’t go." We will never know if he changed that assessment over the years behind bars.