Interpol asks China for info on agency’s missing president

Interpol asks China for info on agency’s missing president

Paris - Interpol has officially asked Chinese authorities to provide information on the worldwide police organization's missing president, Meng Hongwei.

According to a report by the South China Morning Post newspaper, Meng was taken in for questioning by Chinese authorities.

France launched its own investigation on Friday morning, according to the judicial official, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly and asked for anonymity.

Interpol has made a formal request to China for information about its missing Chinese president who seemingly vanished on a trip home, citing concerns for his well-being.

The global police agency, based in France, said in a brief statement that "it looks forward to an official response from China's authorities to address concerns over the president's well-being".

Al Jazeera's Brown added that Meng was vice minister of the Public Security Bureau prior to his Interpol appointment and that made him a very powerful man. The Chinese law enforcement official's election as president of Interpol in 2016 was seen at the time as a victory for Beijing, and a development that lended legitimacy to the worldwide reputation of China's criminal justice system. Meng's wife was purportedly not informed.

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Meng Hongwei (孟宏偉), 64, was last seen leaving for China late last month from Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France, a source close to the inquiry told reporters.

Eventually, the party issues a terse statement that the official is "under investigation", the official is then booted from the party for "disciplinary infractions" and - eventually - a prison sentence is announced.

The French interior ministry said: "Exchanges with Chinese authorities continue".

China has not commented officially on Meng's disappearance and there was no mention of him in official media on Saturday.

When Meng was named Interpol's president in November 2016, human rights groups expressed concern that Beijing might try to leverage his position to pursue dissidents overseas.

As president, Mr Meng leads the Executive Committee, which provides the overall guidance and direction to Interpol.

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But Interpol has, in the past, denied this, saying its head does not intervene in day-to-day operations, which are handled by secretary-general Juergen Stock who is German.

Has Meng Hongwei angered China?

Mr Meng has held various positions within China's security establishment, including as a vice minister of public security since 2004. His term in Lyon runs until 2020.

Authorities in China and Hong Kong have accused Guo, who resides in the United States, of laundering billions of dollars among other crimes.

According to Interpol's website, Meng has almost 40 years of experience in criminal justice and policing, and has overseen matters related to legal institutions, narcotics control and counterterrorism. However, it does not have the power to send officers into countries to arrest individuals or issue arrest warrants.

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