His name is a pseudonym, adopted when he ran afoul of the secret police, his movements and whereabouts similarly a secret. The photo he uses for public consumption evokes an eerie sense of familiarity, but isn’t real. A computer-generated amalgam of many men, it is everyone and no one at all. Even his virtual presence is a specter, concealed behind encryption.
In a country where people have lived under surveillance and emergency law for decades, such precautions are necessary to stay out of prison, says Malath Aumran, a Syrian dissident who leads a phantomlike existence, trying to elude the government’s spies. The secret police, he says, “approach me in so many ways.”
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