Interpol president reportedly missing in China; French police investigating

Meng Hongwei president of Interpol

A French judicial official says the president of Interpol has been reported missing after traveling to China.

The French police said on Friday that they have launched a probe for Meng after being contacted by his wife. But because Interpol's secretary-general is responsible for the day-to-day running of the police agency's operations, Meng's absence may have little operational effect. The statement also added that the secretary general, and not the president, is responsible for the worldwide police agency's daily operations.

He was "taken away" for questioning by the authorities "as soon as he landed in China" last week, the paper said, quoting an unidentified source. According to the French newspaper, the worldwide organization believes that Hongwei was detained by Chinese law enforcement officers for short time.

Interpol's headquarters are in Lyon, in central France.

The Post said Meng was listed on the website of China's Ministry of Public Security as a vice-minister, but added that he lost his seat on its Communist Party Committee, its real decision-making body, in April.

The French interior ministry said it was concerned about unspecified "threats" received by Meng's wife.

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Chinese officials have so far made no public comments on the issue.

His wife said she hadn't heard from him since he travelled to China on September 29, Reuters reported.

Interpol released a statement saying only that it was "aware of media reports in connection with the alleged disappearance" of Meng. Beijing has in the past pressed countries to arrest and deport to China citizens it accuses of crimes, from corruption to terrorism.

Meng Hongwei, 64, was elected the new president of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) in November 2016.

At the time, Amnesty International called Meng's appointment "at odds with Interpol's mandate to work in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights". Meng's family hasn't received any news from him since his September 29 departure for China, according to Europe 1.

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