Mr. Harmon Returns from One Place to Another

Free Bassel

March 15, 2015

As of today Bassel Khartabil has been in a Syrian prison for three years.

Here’s what I wrote for the #freebassel cookbook project last year:

I chose this recipe because it takes a long time to make, so it’s kind of boring when you’re alone. But it’s extremely easy to make, meaning it’s perfect if you’re cooking for someone else and they can sit and talk with you while you’re cooking. Some of my favorite conversations have been around a kitchen while someone is making dinner; it’s where you have time to think things through.

I’ve never met Bassel, but as communications person for Creative Commons, I’ve learned a lot about him in the past two years and met a lot of people who are close to him. To me, his story is a reminder that our work in the open movement isn’t an intellectual exercise: there are places in the world where a free and open internet is a matter of life and death.

A few nights before he was put in prison, Bassel wrote a funny string of tweets sarcastically suggesting that people should eat more junk food because cooking takes too long and audiobooks are all boring. It was a silly joke, but when he wrote it, he knew that he and many of his friends were in serious danger. He understood — more than most of us do — that how you choose to spend your time matters.