Beijing: China on Sunday officially confirmed that the Chinese head of the Interpol, who had reportedly gone missing, is being investigated for suspected breach of law.
However, it was not clear if the Interpol president, Meng Hongwei, was detained. Meng, 64, who is also the vice minister of public security, is being investigated by China’s National Supervisory Commission for suspected violations of laws, state-run Xinhua news agency reported quoting an official statement.
The confirmation came amid reports that Interpol has asked China about its missing president. Interpol, which is based in Lyon, said on Friday that it was aware of reports of Meng’s “alleged disappearance and that the issue was a matter for the relevant authorities in France and China”.
Meng was last seen in France on September 29, according to reports from France. The reports quoted an unnamed French judicial official as saying that Meng arrived in China at the end of September but there had been no news of him since.
On Saturday, quoting a source, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post had reported that Meng, the first Chinese head of the international law enforcement agency headquartered in France, was “taken away” for questioning by discipline authorities “as soon as he landed in China” in the last week of September.
However, it was not immediately clear why he was being investigated or exactly where he was being held.
The French police had said on Friday that they have launched a probe for Meng after being contacted by his wife.
Earlier on Sunday, his wife urged national governments to intervene, saying she feared that her husband’s life was in danger. Speaking in Lyon, Grace Meng said the last social media message she received from her husband came on September 25, depicting a single emoji that means “I’m in danger.”
“This matter belongs to the international community,” Meng told a press conference in English. She kept her back turned to the reporters present, and refused to be photographed out of fears for her safety.
That day, his wife said he sent a social media message telling her to “wait for my call”, before sending the emoji signifying danger, Meng said. “I’m not sure what has happened to him,” she said.
Interpol is the world’s largest agency facilitating police cooperation with 192 member countries. Meng was appointed the head of Interpol in 2016 and he is due to serve until 2020.
In a report on Sunday, the Post quoted an analyst as saying that the fact Beijing was willing to jeopardise its diplomatic relations by snatching a high-profile official in such a way suggested the stakes were high.
While Meng is listed on the website of China’s Ministry of Public Security as a vice-minister, he lost his seat on its Communist Party Committee – its real decision-making body – in April, the Post reported.
According to his own page on the site, Meng’s last official engagement was on August 23, when he met Lai Chung Han, a second permanent secretary of Singapore, it said.
Speculation had mounted that Meng, may have been swept up in a broad anti-corruption campaign led by President Xi Jinping. The Chinese effort to track down corrupt officials abroad, 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.