China confirms it has detained head of Interpol
Meng Hongwei’s wife reportedly received message from him containing a knife emoji
This photo reportedly shows the last message sent by Meng Hongwei to his wife, Grace Meng. Photograph: AP Photo/John Leicester
China said on Sunday it had detained Meng Hongwei and was investigating him for suspected wrongdoing, after the head of the global law enforcement organisation Interpol and Chinese vice-minister for security was reported missing.
The statement by a Chinese anti-graft body was the first official word from China about Mr Meng since his disappearance was reported in France on Friday. Mr Meng was reported missing by his wife after he travelled last month from France, where Interpol is based, to China.
“Public security ministry vice-minister Meng Hongwei is currently under investigation by the National Supervisory Commission for suspected violations of law,” the Chinese anti-corruption body said in a brief statement on its website.
Interpol said later that Mr Meng had resigned as president of the organisation, and that South Korean national Kim Jong Yang would become its acting president, before it appoints a new president at a November 18th-21st meeting of the organisation in Dubai.
Interpol said earlier over the weekend that it had asked Beijing to clarify Mr Meng’s situation.
“Today, Sunday October 7th, [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 on Sunday.
When asked about the Chinese announcement on Sunday, France’s interior ministry said it had no information.
The French ministry said last Friday that Mr Meng’s family had not heard from him since September 25th, and French authorities said his wife was under police protection after getting threats.
French police have been investigating Mr Meng’s case, which is officially termed a “worrying disappearance” by France.
French media broadcast a video which they said was from Mr Meng’s wife Grace, in which she issued a brief statement from a hotel in Lyon to express her concerns. Reuters could not confirm the comments attributed to her.
“As long as I can’t see my husband in front of me, speaking to me, I can’t have any confidence,” Grace Meng was quoted as saying by French TV stations and Sunday newspapers.
French media also reported that Mr Meng’s husband had recently sent her a mobile phone message featuring a knife emoji, as a way of showing her that he felt he was in danger.
Mr Meng (64) was named to the post of Interpol president in late 2016, part of a broader Chinese effort to gain leadership positions in key international organisations.
Presidents of Interpol are seconded from their national administrations and remain in their home posts while representing the international policing body.
Interpol, which represents 192 countries and is usually focused on finding people who are missing or wanted, is run on a day-to-day basis by its secretary general, German national Juergen Stock.
Under president Xi Jinping, China has been engaged in a crackdown on corruption. – Reuters