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Mozilla urges Syria to release Bassel Khartabil

Mozilla today issued its support for a campaign that is trying to secure the release of developer Bassel Khartabil, who has been detained by Syrian officials since March.

Khartabil was arrested in the Mazzeh district of Damascus on March 15. He has not been heard from since, though his family learned from recently released prisoners that he is being held at the security branch of Kafer Sousa in Damascus, according to

"Mozilla supports efforts to obtain the release of Bassel Khartabil (also known as Bassel Safadi), a valuable contributor to and leader in the technology community," the browser maker said today. "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."

Mozilla called on supporters to sign the support letter listed on

Khartabil is a 31-year-old Palestinian-born Syrian who has been working as a computer engineer in Syria for 10 years. He has volunteered on Internet projects like Creative Commons, Firefox, Wikipedia, Open Clip Art Library, Fabricatorz, and Sharism.

"His absence has been painful for the communities that depend on him," according to the website, including his fiancee, whom he was set to marry in April.

"Bassel Khartabil has been unjustly detained for nearly four months without trial or any legal charges being brought against him," the site concluded.

Syria has been in the midst of a civil uprising for months. In recent weeks, there have been increasing reports of government-led violence against and torture of Syrian citizens. United Nations activity in the region was stopped last month, and Maj. Gen. Robert Mood told the New York Times today that violence there has reached "unprecedented" levels.

The news comes as WikiLeaks started publishing more than two million emails from Syrian political figures, ministries, and associated companies, marking one of the group's largest document dumps since its inception in 2006.