Episode 2

Al Khatib Street or "Hell on Earth"

This episode takes you into Branch 251. Or Al Khatib Branch, as it is known among survivors.

Your hosts Karam and Fritz talked to them. Based on their accounts, this is how a detainee's journey looks like from arrest and arrival at the Branch, to the cells and interrogation rooms -- or better: torture chambers.

A word of warning: better not listen with kids or just before going to bed. This will likely be the most gruesome episode of the entire podcast. But it is reality. It is the 21st century. In Syria. It is Branch 251.

* * *

Subscribe to keep every episode coming to you automatically every week. If you would like to support the podcast, go to our website and click 'Support This Podcast'.

You can follow us on Twitter @Fritz_Streiff and @KaramShoumali.

* * *

Some additional sources on this episode and the trial here:

Bernard for The New York Times, 'Inside Syria’s Secret Torture Prisons: How Bashar al-Assad Crushed Dissent', 11 May 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/11/world/middleeast/syria-torture-prisons.html

Violations Documentation Centre, 'Report on Khateeb Branch- State Security, The Testimony of the Detainee Yaser Abd Al-Samad Hussen Karmi', August 2013: http://www.vdc-sy.info/index.php/en/reports/khatibbranch#.XrPe9xMzZE4

Will Christou and Walid Al Nofal, 'Torture and death: Life in al-Khateeb detention center', 29 April 2020, https://syriadirect.org/news/torture-and-death-life-in-al-khateeb-detention-center/#.XqmQsc2e9co.twitter

@ECCHR Berlin hearing summaries can be found here: https://ecchr.eu/en/case/trial-monitoring-first-trial-worldwide-on-torture-in-syria/…

Weekly monitoring reports by the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC): https://syriaaccountability.org/topic/trial-monitoring/updates/…

@MansourOmari survived the Syrian regime’s torture and is blogging for @AmnestyUK, Part 2 here: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/campaigns-blog/syrian-torture-trial-koblenz-germany-part-2

* * *

Logo design by laurenshebly.nl -- Photo by James Lawler Duggan/AFP/Getty Images.

About the Podcast

Show artwork for Branch 251
Branch 251
Syrian Atrocity Crimes on Trial

About your hosts

Profile picture for Fritz Streiff

Fritz Streiff

Fritz is a human rights lawyer with a focus on investigations and case-building in the fields of atrocity crimes and anti-corruption. International justice is his big passion. Though podcasts follow pretty closely. He is currently based in Paris, France.

Profile picture for Noor Hamadeh

Noor Hamadeh


Noor Hamadeh is a Syrian-American international lawyer and a nonresident fellow with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy with a focus on business and human rights in Syria and the MENA region generally. Noor is now based in Chicago, IL
Profile picture for Asser Khattab

Asser Khattab

Asser is a freelance journalist and researcher from Syria who has reported on the Middle East from Lebanon for the Washington Post and the Financial Times; from Syria for the Spanish News Agency and others. He now lives in Paris, France.
Profile picture for Saleem Salameh

Saleem Salameh

Saleem Salameh is an independent writer, filmmaker and podcast producer. Saleem joined multiple Arabic podcast platforms and released five different podcasts. He also trains newcomers and human rights activists on scriptwriting and podcast making. He is currently based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Profile picture for Pauline Peek

Pauline Peek

Pauline Peek is a research assistant, production assistant and history student who also happens to possess a bachelor’s degree in singing. Originally from the Netherlands, she is currently based in Berlin, Germany.
Profile picture for Hannah El-Hitami

Hannah El-Hitami

Hannah is a German-Egyptian freelance journalist focused on sociopolitical topics from Arab countries, as well as migration and human rights issues. She has worked for the Amnesty Journal and published in Der Spiegel, Al Jazeera, Justice Info, among others. She is currently based in Berlin, Germany.