I am writing to you on behalf of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to express my concern over Bassel Khartabil, a Palestinian man born and raised in Syria, who has been detained incommunicado since his arrest in Damascus, Syria, on March 15. One week after his arrest, Khartabil was briefly brought to his home by some members of security forces who confiscated his computers and files. The Electronic Frontier Foundation does not have information about the reasons for his arrest, but we fear it may be connected to the ongoing unrest and armed conflict in Syria.
A few weeks later when relatives inquired about him, security officials at the Kafr Sousseh Military Intelligence branch confirmed that Khartabil was detained, without revealing his whereabouts, his state of health, or if charges had officially been brought against him. International human rights standards require that detainees’ families are notified promptly after their arrest, and are allowed to communicate with detainees. Khartabil has also not been granted access to a lawyer, although international human rights standards require that detainees have access to a lawyer of their choice.
A few weeks later, a released detainee informed Bassel Khartabil’s family that he was being held at the Military Intelligence Branch in Kafr Sousseh and had been tortured and otherwise ill-treated, heightening our concern for his safety. Khartabil is also diabetic. It is not known if he has access to the medication he needs, if he has been provided with a diet that takes into account his diabetes, or if he has been granted a proper medical assessment.
EFF urges the people detaining Kartabil to grant him immediate access to his family, a lawyer of his choice, and all necessary medical treatment. We urge you to protect him from torture and other ill-treatment. Additionally, we call on you to release Khartabil, unless he is promptly charged with an internationally recognizable criminal offence and tried in proceedings that respect international fair trial standards.