Three armed men abducted Bouabdallah, a reporter for the Arabic-language daily Al-Alam al-Siyassi, from his home in the Chevalier section of the capital, Algiers, late on April 12, 1997. According to Bouabdallah’s family, the men stormed into their home, and after they confirmed that the young man’s name was Aziz, they grabbed him, put his hands behind his back, and pushed him out the door and into a waiting car. Bouabdallah was 22 at the time.
An article published in the daily El-Watan a few days after the abduction reported that Bouabdallah was in police custody, according to police sources, and that his release was imminent. The Bouabdallahs said police have not disputed the story.
In July 1997, CPJ received credible information that Bouabdallah was being held in Algiers at the Châteauneuf detention facility, where he had reportedly been tortured. Bouabdallah’s whereabouts were unknown in 2007, and authorities have denied any knowledge.
Both family and colleagues expressed bewilderment about the motive behind Bouabdallah’s disappearance. They say that he was not politically active. His mother, Shafia, said that he had been studying law for three years at the Faculty of Law in Ben Aknoun. “He wanted to become a judge,” she said.
In late January 2002, Algerian Ambassador to the United States Idriss Jazairy responded to a CPJ query, saying a government investigation had not found those responsible for Bouabdallah’s abduction and said there was no evidence of state involvement.