Interpol asks China about missing chief

Hugh Fox
October 8, 2018

The Lyon-based worldwide police agency said in a brief statement Saturday that it used law enforcement channels to submit its request about the status of Meng Hongwei.

The International Criminal Police Organization, more commonly referred to as Interpol, is a France-based organization that links together international police forces and helps facilitate cooperation between them.

Critics of Meng's 2016 election to Interpol's presidency said he would use the position to help China target dissidents overseas under the guise of pursuing corrupt officials.

His wife, who contacted police in Lyon, the French city where the global police agency is based, had also said she had received threats by phone and on social media, according to the ministry.

His wife, who remained in France with their two children, reported her concerns to the police, who launched a probe.

According to reports in Chinese media, "Meng's position at China's Ministry of Public Security as a vice-minister had become untenable, as he lost his seat on its Communist Party Committee in April".

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It is not clear why Meng - the first Chinese president of Interpol - would be under investigation.

Meng's wife reported him missing to police in Lyon Thursday after she said she hadn't heard from in in 10 days and had recently received threats, a French Interior Ministry statement said.

Interpol yesterday said it asked Chinese authorities for information about Meng.

Presidents of Interpol are seconded from their national administrations and remain in their home post while representing the worldwide policing body.

It is the latest high-profile disappearance in China, where a number of top government officials, billionaire business magnates and even an A-list celebrity have vanished for weeks or months at a time.

Meng was appointed the head of Interpol in 2016.

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His duties in China would have put him in close proximity to former leaders, some who fell afoul of Xi's campaign.

Meng's appointment as president in 2016 - amid Chinese leader Xi Jinping's sweeping anti-corruption drive - alarmed some human rights organizations, fearful it would embolden China to strike out at dissidents and refugees overseas. "France is puzzled about the situation of Interpol's president and concerned about the threats made to his wife".

Mr Meng likely dealt extensively with former security chief Zhou Yongkang, who is now serving a life sentence for corruption.

Xi has placed a premium on getting officials and businesspeople accused of fraud and corruption to return from overseas, making Meng's position even more sensitive.

The news site Caixin later said Yang was being investigated by Chinese authorities over his ties to the head of state-controlled Huarong Asset Management and had been detained in Cambodia.

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