China confirms detention of ex-Interpol chief Meng Hongwei

Geraldine Edwards
October 8, 2018

Meng, a senior security official in China as well as the first Chinese head of Interpol, has been missing since September 25 while on a trip to his native country.

The revelations came as Meng Hongwei's wife voiced concern for his life after receiving a final text message from his phone with a knife emoji.

Beijing, which had remained quiet about the 64-year-old's status since French officials announced his disappearance on Friday, said in a statement that Meng "is now under investigation on suspicion of violating the law". It did not say why.

His wife's plea underscored how China's system of shady and often-arbitrary detentions can ensnare even a senior public security official with global standing, leaving loved ones uninformed and in a panic.

Previously, Interpol had said that reports about Meng's disappearance were "a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China".

China's National Supervision Commission, which handles corruption cases involving public servants, said Mr Meng was under investigation in a statement on its website.

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"Today, Sunday 7 October, (at) the Interpol General Secretariat in Lyon, France received the resignation of Mr Meng Hongwei as President of Interpol with immediate effect", Interpol said in a statement this evening.

Interpol director, Meng Hongwei, who is missing since late September, is under investigation by China's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, Beijing confirms.

Interpol, which is based in Lyon, said Saturday it made a formal request to China for information about Meng.

Meng's wife has said her husband sent her an image of a knife before he disappeared.

Grace Meng told reporters in Lyon, France, that she thinks her husband was trying to tell her he was in danger.

Last week, his wife, Grace Meng, reported him as missing to French police, explaining that she had not heard from her husband since he arrived in China the week before.

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According to Interpol's website, Meng has almost 40 years of experience in criminal justice and policing, and has overseen matters related to legal institutions, narcotics control and counterterrorism.

Xi, China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, has overseen a harsh crackdown on civil society that is aimed at squelching dissent and activism among lawyers and rights advocates.

It adds that a "suitable police mechanism" was put in place to guarantee Grace Meng's safety, and that the prosecutor's office in Lyon has opened an investigation.

Meng was appointed the head of Interpol in 2016. "His job is very busy", she said.

Grace Meng covered her face during the news conference because she feared for her safety, the Associated Press reported.

The organisation went out of its way to say that its secretary general, not Meng, was responsible for the day-to-day running of the agency.

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