We are deeply saddened to learn about the death of our friend Bassel Khartabil. We mourn his loss and send our deepest condolences to his family, friends and all those who knew and loved him.
A Creative Commons leader in Syria who was active in projects including Mozilla Firefox and Wikipedia, Bassel Khartabil (aka Bassel Safadi) played a pivotal role in extending online access and open knowledge to the public in Syria. He was a close friend of many in the Global Voices community and participated in our 2009 Arab Bloggers Meeting.
In November 2015, Bassel's wife reported that she was contacted by people who identified themselves as Assad government insiders. They told Noura Ghazi that her husband had been sentenced to death, but offered no further information. Bassel's whereabouts and condition were unknown until today, when Noura learned from Syrian officials that he was executed in 2015.
Today and beyond, we honor all of Bassel's work as a leader in the open web movement. And we honor the efforts of many individuals and organizations that advocated for his release over the past five years.
Since the beginning of the protests against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in 2011, more than 65,000 people have disappeared, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights.
Untold numbers of those who have been arrested or forcibly disappeared by the regime have faced torture and even executions. As of 2016, at least 17,723 Syrians had died in custody since 2011, according to the international human rights group Amnesty International. The stories of many more people remain unknown.