China silent as French police probe disappearance of Interpol chief

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The Lyon-based global police agency says Saturday it used law-enforcement channels to submit its request about the status of Meng Hongwei.

Meng's wife says she hasn't heard from him since he left the French city of Lyon at the end of September to go to China. France has opened an investigation.

The Chinese government has remained tight-lipped on the disappearance of International Criminal Political Investigation (Interpol) Chief Meng Hongwei on a trip to China.

Also, at one time, China prized Mr Meng's lofty position at Interpol so it was hard to imagine what he had done for Beijing to willingly, and publicly, forfeit the top job at Interpol.

Interpol co-ordinates searches among its members, issuing yellow notices for missing persons and a red notice - an global alert - for a wanted person.

"This is a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China", the police agency said on Twitter, adding it would make no further comment. The 64-year-old was elected as the president of Interpol in November 2016.

Meng is also a vice minister for public safety in China.

Neither China's public security ministry nor its foreign ministry have replied to queries about the president. China has made no official comment.

Meng is listed on the website of China's Ministry of Public Security as a vice-minister, but lost his seat on its Communist Party Committee in April, the South China Morning Post reported.

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Meng was last seen in Lyon, Interpol's home base, late September.

He heads the organisation's Executive Committee, which provides overall guidance and direction.

In the role Meng has been entrusted with a number of sensitive portfolios, including heading up the country's counter-terrorism division, which saw him in charge of the response to several major incidents in China's fractious western region of Xinjiang.

Meng has nearly 40 years' experience in criminal justice and policing, and has overseen matters related to legal institutions, narcotics control and counter-terrorism, according to Interpol's website.

"France is puzzled about the situation of Interpol's president and concerned about the threats made to his wife", the ministry said.

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. Beijing has in the past pressed countries to arrest and deport to China citizens it accuses of crimes, from corruption to terrorism.

The police agency, which links forces from its 192 member states, is unlikely to be affected by the disappearance, with the secretary general largely responsible for day-to-day operations.

Such actions would be contrary to Interpol's mission statement: "Action is taken within the limits of existing laws in different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights".

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