Published: Mon, October 08, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

China confirms detention of ex-Interpol chief Meng Hongwei

China confirms detention of ex-Interpol chief Meng Hongwei

She reported her husband missing to French authorities last week and French prosecutors said on Friday they had launched an investigation.

"Interpol has requested through official law enforcement channels clarification from China's authorities on the status of Interpol President Meng Hongwei", Stock said in a statement.

China's National Supervisory Commission, which handles corruption cases involving public servants, broke the official silence early Monday, saying in a one-line statement that Meng "is now under investigation on suspicion of violating the law".

Speaking to reporters in the French city of Lyon, where Interpol is based, on Sunday, Meng's wife Grace Meng appealed for help, saying: "This matter belongs to the global community". On Sunday, after Meng's detention was confirmed, Interpol then announced that he had resigned from his post effective immediately.

"If what Meng is involved in is nothing more than an ordinary corruption case, there would have been no need for the authorities to handle it in such a manner".

Interpol, consisting of 192 member countries, said on October 7 that it had received Meng's resignation, NBC News reported. Using his Interpol mobile phone, he sent her the emoji image of a kitchen knife that day, four minutes after he sent a message saying, "Wait for my call".

"As long as I can't see my husband in front of me, speaking to me, I can't have any confidence", Mrs Meng was quoted as saying by French TV stations and Sunday newspapers.

Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute in London, said that given Meng's seniority, any decision to detain him must have come from the highest levels of the Chinese government.

Early in April, Meng had already lost his seat on China's Public Security Ministry's Communist Party Committee (its real decision-making body), although he is still listed on the ministry's website as a deputy minister.

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She said he was in China when he sent the message.

China's recently established National Supervisory Commission holds sweeping powers to investigate public servants, with few requirements for transparency.

Interpol has downplayed the concerns, saying the president has little influence over the organisation's day-to-day operations.

In fact, according to the Times, Meng's presidency had alarmed some human rights groups at the time he was appointed, as they anxious he would use Interpol resources to help China go after dissidents overseas.

Meng is China's vice minister of public security as well as president of the International Criminal Police Organization.

The former president of an organization like Interpol being imprisoned on corruption charges would not be a good look for future Communist Party members hoping to head worldwide organizations.

Meng was appointed the head of Interpol in 2016.

Interpol has said it is concerned about his apparent disappearance and has made inquiries with China. "'Yellow notices" are issued for missing persons.

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