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The New Arab

Damascus hides activist in shadows of secret prison

Kharabil created photographic 3D models of the ancient city of Palmyra [AFP]

Date of publication: 5 November, 2015

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Syrian authorities have been urged to release Bassel Kharabil, whose whereabouts have been kept hidden since his disappearance a month ago.

A coalition of 23 organisations have called on Syrian authorities to immediately reveal the location of jailed activist Bassel Kharabil, a month after he was transferred to an undisclosed location, said Human Rights Watch today.

Kharabil is a software developer and defender of information freedom who was detained by Syria's military intelligence agency on 15 March 2012.

The activist is facing military field court proceedings for his peaceful activities in support of the freedom of expression.

On 3 October he told his family he was being moved, but did not say where to.

His family have received no further information, but believe he may have been moved to the military-run field court inside the military police base in Qaboun, northeast of Damascus.

"Each day without news feels like an eternity to his family," a spokesperson for the organisations said. "Syrian authorities should immediately reveal his whereabouts and reunite him with them."

The organisations, including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Reporters without Borders, and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, also asked the Syrian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him.

Khartabil, 34, trained as a computer engineer and followed a career in software and web development. He has used his skills to advance freedom of speech and access to information via the internet.

He is the founder of Creative Commons Syria, a nonprofit organisation that helps people share artistic and other work using free legal tools.

The Palestinian-Syrian also began creating photographic three-dimensional models of the ancient city of Palmyra, which is currently being destroyed by the Islamic State group.

In October, as part of the New Palmyra Project, a group of activists released an online collection of reconstructed models of the ancient city based on photographs taken by Kharabil in a number of visits to the site.

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