Following reports that Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, 64, had been “taken away for questioning” by Chinese disciplinary authorities almost immediately after arriving in China last week, Bloomberg reported that the supranational law-enforcement agency had formally asked Beijing for “a clarification” about Meng’s status.
Meng, who is also a deputy minister for public safety in China though he had been living with his family in Lyon, France, where Interpol’s headquarters is based, was reported missing by his wife earlier this week, prompting prosecutors in France to open an investigation. That investigation is continuing despite confirmation that Meng is being held by the Chinese government.
“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.”
Meng is also China’s deputy minister of public security and has 40 years of experience in policing and public safety. His experience includes stints working on narcotics enforcement and counter-terrorism, according to Interpol’s website. While many at Interpol feared Meng would abuse his position to encourage foreign governments to extradite Chinese dissidents living abroad, instead, he appears to have taken an interest in cybercrime enforcement since his election in November 2016. His term is set to expire in 2020.
Meng’s family hasn’t received any information about his status since he left France on Sept. 29. Nobody from the French of Chinese governments returned Bloomberg’s request for comment.
While the exact justification surrounding Meng’s capture remains murky, the South China Morning Post reported that Meng may be the latest target of the Chinese government’s anti-corruption campaign.
If true, this is clearly bad news for Meng and his family, and brings to mind the fate of another prominent Communist Party official, Bo Xilai, a former municipal party chief known for his crackdown on organized crime and corruption. Bo was stripped of his status and eventually sentenced to life in prison. Others who have been prosecuted under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crackdown have suffered an even worse fate.