Published: Mon, October 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Missing ex-Interpol chief 'under probe for bribery' - says China ministry

Missing ex-Interpol chief 'under probe for bribery' - says China ministry

The former head of Interpol, who vanished after taking a flight to Beijing, is being held and investigated for corruption, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security said in a statement Monday.

The National Supervisory Commission, the country's top anti-corruption agency, said Meng was being investigated for suspected violation of state law, the South China Morning Post reported.

Meng has now resigned as president of Interpol, the organisation said. His wife has been placed under French police protection since reporting his disappearance, Agence France-Presse said, citing the interior ministry.

That day, his wife said he sent a social media message telling her to "wait for my call", before sending the emoji signifying danger.

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

Asked if she believed that he has been arrested, she said: "In China, what happened, I'm not sure".

The websites of French papers broadcast video clips showing Grace Meng speaking in a trembling voice, with her back to a TV camera in order to hide her appearance.

French police announced on Friday that they were leading investigations to find Mr Meng.

The first Chinese national to lead Interpol, his election caused controversy at the time, especially among human rights activists.

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

Soon after, Interpol said it had received Meng's resignation "with immediate effect".

Meng had been reported missing by his wife after travelling last month from France, where Interpol is based, to China.

It was not until almost midnight on Sunday that China finally provided an explanation, releasing a one-sentence statement which said that Meng was under the "monitoring and investigation" of anti-corruption party investigators.

However, Meng's wife sought to distance her husband from Zhou, saying the two men did not get on. Amnesty International accused Beijing of attempting to use the police organization to hunt for Chinese dissidents and activists.

Mrs Meng said she has had no further contact with her husband since she received the knife image on 25 September.

One of them loves horses, she said, and the other "looks like the bear".

When Meng was named Interpol's president in November 2016, human-rights groups expressed concern that Beijing might try to leverage his position to pursue dissidents overseas.

The Chinese effort to track down corrupt officials overseas, known as Operation Fox Hunt, has led to claims in some countries that Chinese law-enforcement agents have been operating covertly on their soil without the approval or consent of local authorities.

Early this year, China officially established the NSC, a new all-powerful anti-corruption agency that was written into the Chinese Constitution.

In this July 4, 2017 file photo, Interpol President, Meng Hongwei, delivers his opening address at the Interpol World congress in Singapore.

China would have been well aware of those risks before acting in the way it did, Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan said.

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