China mum on Interpol chief Meng Hongwei's disappearance

Adjust Comment Print

But Interpol would not be drawn on his possible whereabouts.

French police opened a probe Friday into the week-long disappearance of Interpol's president.

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

Far from being a Hollywood-style agency with agents toting weapons across the globe, Interpol is low-profile and discreet about its cases, unless it wants to talk.

The South China Morning Post quotes a source as saying Mr Meng, 64, was "taken away" for questioning in China.

While Interpol is still waiting for an official response from China, an official investigation has been launched in France.

A spokeswoman for Interpol, who declined to give her name, refused to say whether Meng was on official business in China when he was last heard from.

The global police agency said it was concerned about Mr Meng's well-being after he disappeared on a trip to his homeland.

Mr Meng is the first person from China to serve as Interpol's president, a post that is largely symbolic but powerful in status.

More news: Arsenal beat Watford to make it five games unbeaten
More news: SCOTUS or bust: Kavanaugh forced to withdraw from teaching gig at Harvard
More news: Thank You Ghana - Melania Trump | Social

The International Criminal Police Organization based in Lyon, France, connects the law enforcement agencies of its 192 member countries.

"France is puzzled about the situation of Interpol's president and concerned about the threats made to his wife", the ministry said. However, it does not have the power to send officers into countries to arrest individuals or issue arrest warrants.

China has not commented officially on Meng's disappearance and there was no mention of him in official media on Saturday. The Interpol headquarters are based in Lyon.

The Chinese effort to track down corrupt officials overseas, known as Operation Fox Hunt, has led to claims in some countries that Chinese law enforcement agents have been operating covertly on their soil without the approval or consent of local authorities.

Some critics of the effort - which has punished more than one million officials - say it also functions as a tool for Xi to eliminate his political rivals.

There have been several cases in recent years of senior Chinese officials vanishing without explanation, only for the government to announce weeks or even months later that they have been put under investigation, often for suspected corruption.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a request for comment from reporters.

And in 2016 the chairman of one of the country's most prominent fashion firms also disappeared, returning to work a week later amid speculation he had been caught up in the anti-corruption campaign.