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On the morning of October 2, 2012, a friend of Khalil Maatouk was driving him to work, as health problems prevented the 53-year-old lawyer from getting around on his own. At 9:45 a.m. Khalil’s friend, Mohamed Zaza, answered a phone call from his wife. That was the last time anyone was able to reach the two men. They just disappeared.

“It usually takes about 15 minutes for Khalil to reach his office,” said a close friend, also a lawyer. “But there are at least 15 checkpoints on that road, operating on behalf of different state security branches.”

Khalil is the executive director of the Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research, and the head of the Syrian Center for the Defense of Detainees. He defended numerous activists before and during the Syrian uprising, and has co-authored many texts on justice and respect for fundamental freedoms. One lawyer working on his case said Khalil had previously been summoned to various security branches because of his work and frequent travels. “Khalil traveled a lot for his health, too,” the lawyer said. “We are extremely worried about the lack of news, and very worried about his health condition. Khalil is on a strict medication regimen, including injections he regularly gets at the hospital.”

A released detainee told Khalil’s lawyer that he had seen Khalil at the State Security detention facility in the Kafar Souseh section of Damascus, but the Syrian general prosecutor denied that he was there and provided no further information on his whereabouts.

Khalil’s lawyer and his family believe that security forces abducted him, but they have no information about who specifically was responsible. The family deeply regrets that his friend Mohamed, who was not politically active, was abducted with him.


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