Razan Zaitouneh was born in 1977 in Syria. In 1999 she completed her studies at the faculty of law in Damascus and initiated her work as a lawyer in 2001. Her main focus is in human rights.
Since 2001 she has been a member of a group of lawyers which take it upon themselves to defend the rights of political prisoners. She also was a co-founding member of the Human Rights Association in Syria, which she was active for until 2004.
In 2005 she founded the internet platform SHRIL (Syrian Human Rights Information Link vdc-sy.org, which functions as a database for human right violations committed by the Syrian regime. In addition she was active in a committee supporting the political prisoners' families.
Once the revolution started she had to hide to be able to keep on reporting about human right violations against members of the opposition – such as imprisonments, torture, homicide and mistreatment of prisoners.
She is co-founding member of the local coordinating committee of the revolution in Syria, which was founded in April 2011.
In May 2011 the air force intelligence service burst her house in Damascus. Many of her documents and personal belongings were taken. Additionally her husband's brother, Aburrahman Hammada, who was casually visiting, was taken hostage in exchange for the fugitive couple.
After the arrest of Aburrahman Hammada also Razan Zaitouneh's husband Wa'il Hammada was arrested by the air force intelligence service. The brothers spent three months in solitary confinement before they were relieved.
Since 2004 Razan Zaitouneh has been publishing dozens of articles and reports about the human rights situation and the freedom of speech in Syria on different websites and newspapers.
She received the Anna Politkovskaya Prize for the defence of human rights and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought (along with the Syrian caricaturist Ali Ferzat), distributed by the European Parliament.