Beijing probing 'missing' Chinese head of Interpol

MOSCOW RUSSIA ? JULY 6 2018 Interpol President Meng Hongwei at an International Cybersecurity Congress at Moscow's World Trade Centre. Mikhail Metzel  TASS

She contacted the police on Friday.

Interpol, which coordinates worldwide policing efforts, says it is aware of media reports in connection with Hongwei's disappearance.

"This is a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China", the agency said in a statement. Le Monde claimed that the "loss" of the President of Interpol is not connected to any criminal episode.

Hongwei, 64, was elected president of Interpol in November 2016.

Meng has held several senior positions in China, including vice minister of public security and he previously served as vice chairman of the national narcotics control commission and director of the National Counter-Terrorism Office.

Meng Hongwei, a Chinese national, was reported missing after going to his home country on September 29, Reuters reported, citing unnamed French judicial sources.

Reports from April said Meng had been relieved of his position as a member of the party committee at the Ministry of Public Security, with no explanation given. According to the French newspaper, the worldwide organization believes that Hongwei was detained by Chinese law enforcement officers for short time.

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, a German.

News of the investigation into Mr Meng's disappearance came during a week-long public holiday in China.

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. His term is expected to run until 2020, according to Interpol's website.

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.

China, in the midst of a weeklong holiday, offered no comment on the disappearance of Meng.

But Meng said at the time that he was ready to do "everything he could towards the cause of policing in the world".

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