French police have opened an investigation into the whereabouts of the president of international police cooperation agency Interpol, after his wife reported he had gone missing after travelling home to his native China last week. The French interior ministry said on Friday his wife has been placed under protection after threats.
The ministry said the Interpol chief left Lyon, France, where the international police organization is based, and arrived in China at the end of September. She said there had been no news of him since.
Interpol is aware of media reports in connection with the alleged disappearance of INTERPOL President Meng Hongwei. This is a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China. The Secretary-General is the Organization’s full-time official responsible for the day to day running of Interpol. Interpol’s General Secretariat headquarters will not comment further.
China has not commented officially on Meng’s disappearance and there was no mention of him in official media on Saturday.
The 64-year-old Meng Hongwei was elected president of Interpol in November 2016. His term is due to run until 2020. A vice minister of public security in China, he previously served as vice chairman of the national narcotics control commission and director of the National Counter-Terrorism Office for China.
Meng’s appointment at Interpol raised concerns among human rights campaigners who said China has a track record of marrying politics and policing. East and South East Asia Regional Director for Amnesty International, Nicholas Bequelin, was one such voice.
This is extraordinarily worrying given China's longstanding practice of trying to use Interpol to arrest dissidents and refugees abroad.
Chinese president Xi Jinping has waged a crackdown on corruption in recent years that saw high level politicians taken to trial over their misdeeds. China filed a list of 100 of its most-wanted suspects with Interpol in April 2014, about one third of which have since been repatriated.