French police have opened an investigation into the whereabouts of the president of international police cooperation agency Interpol, after his wife reported he had gone missing after travelling home to his native China last week.
- Meng Hongwei has not contacted his family since September 29
- He is a former Chinese Government official and has headed Interpol since 2016
- Interpol says his disappearance is a matter for French and Chinese authorities
Meng Hongwei was “taken away” for questioning by authorities immediately after his flight landed in China, the South China Morning Post reported, citing an anonymous source.
The Hong Kong newspaper said he was “under investigation” by Chinese authorities but his current whereabouts were unknown.
Mr Meng’s wife contacted police in Lyon, the French city where the agency has its headquarters, to report her husband as missing after not hearing from him since September 25, the Interior Ministry said.
“Exchanges with Chinese authorities continue,” the ministry said in a statement.
“France is puzzled about the situation of Interpol’s president and concerned about the threats made to his wife.”
Hongwei’s family have not heard from him since September 25, the ministry added, earlier than the September 29 date police sources had previously reported.
A French official said Mr Meng did arrive in China.
In a statement, Interpol said it was aware of reports about Mr Meng’s disappearance and added “this is a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China.”
The statement specified that Interpol’s secretary general, and not its president, is responsible for the international police agency’s operations.
There was no further word on Mr Meng’s schedule in China or what prompted his wife to wait until now to report his absence.
Interpol’s main function is to provide a mechanism for police forces in different countries to notify each other of wanted suspects.
Mr Meng has held several senior positions in China including vice minister of public security, vice chairman of the national narcotics control commission and the director of the National Counter-Terrorism Office for China.
He was named president of Interpol in 2016 and his term is due to run until 2020.
Rights groups have previously expressed concern Beijing might try to use Mr Meng’s position at the body to go after dissidents abroad.
The Chinese Government has tried for many years to enlist the help of foreign countries to arrest and deport back to China citizens it accuses of crimes, including corruption and terrorism.
Calls to an Interpol spokeswoman went unanswered.