Mozilla Foundation and EFF join hunt for Syrian open source developer
One of our developers is missing
The open source community and human rights organizations have joined forces to find a software developer who has been missing for months following the recent civil unrest in Syria.
Bassel Khartabil, a 31-year-old computer engineer, was the project leader of Aiki Framework, an open source tool for building web applications. He also contributed to various community-based online projects, including Creative Commons, Fabricatorz, Mozilla Firefox, Open Clip Art Library, Sharism, and Wikipedia.
He was arrested on 15 March 2012 in the Mazzeh district of Damascus, Syria's capital city, during the mass demonstrations that swept the country. His family says they have neither seen nor heard from him since, but news has reached them that he may be held in a security facility in Damascus' Kafar Souseh district.
Mitchell Baker, chair of the Mozilla Foundation, has issued a statement on behalf of the organization in support of the effort to free Khartabil, saying:
Bassel's expertise and focus across all aspects of his work has been in support of the development of publicly available, free, open source computer software code and technology. Through his efforts, the quality and availability of freely available and open technology is improved and technology is advanced.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has also lent its support to the campaign, calling Khartabil's detainment "especially alarming" in light of a recent Human Rights Watch report documenting the use of torture in Syrian security facilities.
"EFF joins Bassel’s friends, family, and colleagues in calling for his release and condemns the Syrian government, which has held him for almost four months without charges or a trial," the organization said in a blog post.
Khartabil's supporters have launched an online petition, addressed to the Syrian government, urging his release. More than 1,000 supporters have signed the letter so far. In addition, the campaign encourages supporters to use the #freebassel hashtag on Twitter to raise awareness of the matter. ®
The guys' only flaw was bad luck by being born in the worst kind of crap hole in a horrible region. That part of the world doesn't care how they destroy their best and brightest for the next generation. Probably why the west can steal so many successfully.
I hope I'm wrong, but with a country like Syria, I can't help wondering if raising the guy's profile might actually put him more at risk.
I hate to say it
But knowing Syria under the Assads, he's probably dead.
Syria's secret police are trained by the Iranians and the Pakistanis. People die in custody or get disappeared all the time.
If he was arrested by the normal police, he stands a chance of being alive but lost in their system, which is very reminiscent of Iraq's system immediately following the Invasion in 2003. Our forces had the damnest time trying to locate people, mainly Kurdish Peshmerga militiamen and Shiites caught providing intelligence to foreign powers or the UN but not executed. We knew they were alive but scattered across the country.
If you want to make some noise, email Al-Jazeera. They're the only news outlet that matters globally which is likely to care.