Interpol asks China about disappearance of crime agency’s chief

Meng is head of the executive committee that oversees Interpol. (Bloomberg pic)

PARIS: Interpol asked China to clarify the status of the law enforcement group’s president, amid press reports that he’s been arrested in his home country.

“Interpol has requested through official law enforcement channels clarification from China’s authorities on the status of Interpol President Meng Hongwei,” Juergen Stock, secretary general of the organization based in Lyon, France, said in a statement. “Interpol’s general secretariat looks forward to an official response from China’s authorities to address concerns over the president’s well-being.”

While Meng is head of the executive committee that oversees Interpol, the agency is run by the secretary general. Meng was taken into custody immediately upon his arrival in China last week for questioning by authorities, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a source it didn’t identify.

France is investigating the disappearance of Meng, who is also a senior Chinese security official, a person familiar with the matter said Friday. The probe was opened by the prosecutor in Lyon, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the status of the case is confidential.

After a 40-year policing and criminal justice career, Meng also is China’s deputy minister of public security. His experience ranges from narcotics control to counter-terrorism, according to Interpol’s website. After being elected as the head of the global policing agency in November 2016, Meng took a particular interest in cybercrime. His term is due to expire in 2020.

Meng’s wife alerted the French authorities, leading to the opening of the probe, Europe 1 radio reported this week, without specifying how it had obtained the information. Meng’s family hasn’t received any news from him since his Sept. 29 departure for China, according to Europe 1.

No one at the French presidency was available for comment, and Chinese officials didn’t respond to a fax and phone calls for information on Meng’s whereabouts late on Friday.