Bassel Safadi

4am in San Francisco, a quiet street outside. I can’t sleep. The world seems a little mad with hyperbolic talk of fire and fury. So, now I’m awake with a few moments to think about things that don’t get out in the light of day. One of them being what happened to Bassel Safadi.

Bassel was someone I worked with once on a Book Sprint. I didn’t know him, but he is a good friend of friends of mine. I had this fleeting picture of him ‘just being one of the crew’ in the most normal sense. He wasn’t anyone I connected directly with, he was participating remotely in the event. His buddies were in Berlin with me and Bassel was ‘just there’ somewhere in the ether. Present, friendly, friend of friends.

Months later my buddies said he was imprisoned in Syria. It is at this point I paused to learn more about him. Imprisoned in Syria? What? What did he do? It was an event that stuck out angular, jutting, and severe in my otherwise comfortable world. It was then that I learned just how normal Bassel was. He was just this guy. He did some activist stuff in the area of Free Culture, the sort of stuff I work on. And yet he ended up, as I learned last week, being executed.

It just doesn’t seem fair. It’s not fair. It’s sad and stupid and above all, not normal. I feel for his buddies, his family. But most of all there is this dissonant hole in my understanding of the world. What is it doing there? I don’t understand how this can happen. I don’t think I can understand why this happened. It’s just stupid and sad.

Free Bassel

Some years ago, I worked with Bassel Safadi on an early Book Sprint called ‘The Open Web,’ in Berlin. I can’t claim to be Bassel’s friend, but I know a lot of people that are his friends, and by all accounts, he is a great guy.

Bassel is an active Creative Commons and free software advocate. He is, as they say, ‘just like one of us’. As Lawrence Lessig said:
“In the middle east, the fight for freedom is generic: To stand for the right to create and share freely is to risk the most extreme response. Bassel is now suffering that most extreme response.”

On March 15, 2012, Bassel Safadi was detained in a wave of arrests in
the Mazzeh district of Damascus. Events recently have turned for the worse.  According to the EFF on Oct 3rd: “Bassel was moved earlier today from Adra Prison. He was told to pack up his belongings with no prior warning, and taken to an unknown location.
There is currently speculation that he may have been transferred to the Military Field Court in Qaboun.”

There is a letter of support online. If you could sign it that would be