Fahassi was last seen on May 6, 1995, near his home in the Al-Harrache suburb of Algiers. On the day of his disappearance, Fahassi had left a neighborhood restaurant where he had been with friends at about 2:30 p.m. Eyewitnesses told his wife, Safia, that four well-dressed men with walkie-talkies accosted the journalist. They said the men called out Fahassi’s name and then pushed him into a waiting car. He has not been seen since, and Algerian authorities have denied any knowledge of his arrest.
Fahassi was a reporter for the government-run French-language radio station Alger Chaïne III and a contributor to several Algerian newspapers, including the weekly La Nation, and the Islamic Salvation Front-affiliated weekly Al-Forqane, which was banned.
Prior to his “disappearance,” Fahassi was targeted by Algerian authorities on at least two occasions in response to his published critiques of the government. In late 1991, he was arrested following the publication of an article in Al-Forqane that likened a raid by security forces on an Algiers neighborhood to a pogrom. He was convicted on January 1, 1992, by the Blida Military Court of disseminating false information, attacking a state institution, and disseminating information that could harm national unity. He received a one-year suspended sentence and was released, having served five months in custody.
A few months later, on February 17, 1992, he was arrested for allegedly attacking state institutions and spreading false information and transferred to the Ain Salah Detention Center in southern Algeria. The facility detained hundreds of Islamist suspects in the months following the cancellation of the January 1992 elections. Fahassi was released on March 29 after a vocal campaign in the press, Safia Fahassi 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 Fahassi’s abduction. The ambassador added that there was no evidence of state involvement.