Interpol chief missing, France launches investigation

Interpol chief missing, France launches investigation

Interpol President Meng Hongwei has gone missing during a visit to his native country China, leading to an investigation by the French police into his disappearance, the media reported.

In July a year ago, Meng gave a speech on the importance of cracking down on cyber crime which observers said might reflect China's views on the issue.

Before being elected head of Interpol in November 2016, Meng was vice minister of public security in China.

As president, Meng leads the Executive Committee, which provides the overall guidance and direction to Interpol. Rights groups had expressed concern at the time that Beijing might try to use Meng's position at the body to go after dissidents overseas.

Meng Hongwei 64, was last seen leaving for China from the global police organisation's headquarters in Lyon, southeast France, in late September, a source closed to the enquiry told AFP.

"This is a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China", it said.

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

Interpol added that the secretary general - not the president - was in charge of the day-to-day running of the 192-member organisation.

Meng's appointment as president in 2016 - amid Chinese leader Xi Jinping's sweeping anti-corruption drive - alarmed some human rights organizations, fearful it would embolden China to strike out at dissidents and refugees overseas.

This is with reference to a source the newspaper writes South China Morning Post.

Meng Hongwei, who also holds the post of deputy minister in the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China, was "detained" for questioning by law enforcement officers, "as soon as his plane landed in China", SCMP quotes its source.

Mr Meng's wife alerted the French authorities, leading to the opening of the probe, Europe 1 said, without specifying how it had obtained the information.

Despite such statements, rights groups expressed concern that Meng would help further China's agenda of attacking the government's political foes while neutralizing criticism.

Xi has placed a premium on getting officials and businesspeople accused of fraud and corruption to return from overseas, making Meng's position even more sensitive.

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