In­ter­pol asks China for info on pres­i­dent

Re­port sug­gests he may be tar­get of cor­rup­tion in­quiry

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - NATION / WORLD - By John Le­ices­ter As­so­ci­ated Press

In­ter­pol said Satur­day it has made a for­mal re­quest to China for in­for­ma­tion about the agency’s miss­ing pres­i­dent, a se­nior Chi­nese se­cu­rity of­fi­cial who seem­ingly van­ished while on a trip home.

The Lyon-based in­ter­na­tional po­lice agency said it used law en­force­ment chan­nels to sub­mit its re­quest to China about the sta­tus of Meng Hong­wei. Its state­ment said the agency “looks for­ward to an of­fi­cial re­sponse from China’s au­thor­i­ties to ad­dress con­cerns over the pres­i­dent’s well-be­ing,”

China, in the midst of a week­long hol­i­day, has yet to com­ment on the 64-year-old se­cu­rity of­fi­cial’s dis­ap­pear­ance. Calls and faxed ques­tions to the for­eign and pub­lic se­cu­rity min­istries went unan­swered.

Meng’s wife says she hasn’t heard from him since he left the French city of Lyon at the end of Septem­ber. France has launched its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion. French au­thor­i­ties say he boarded a plane and ar­rived in China but his sub­se­quent where­abouts are un­known.

In ad­di­tion to his In­ter­pol post, Meng is also a vice min­is­ter for pub­lic se­cu­rity in China.

Pre­vi­ously, In­ter­pol had said that re­ports about Meng’s dis­ap­pear­ance were “a mat­ter for the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties in both France and China.”

The South China Morn­ing Post, a Hong Kong news­pa­per, has sug­gested that Meng may have been the lat­est tar­get of an on­go­ing cam­paign against cor­rup­tion in China.

His du­ties in China would have put him in close prox­im­ity to for­mer lead­ers, some who fell afoul of Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s sweep­ing anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paign. Meng likely dealt ex­ten­sively with for­mer se­cu­rity chief Zhou Yongkang, who is now serv­ing a life sen­tence for cor­rup­tion.

The Hong Kong news­pa­per said Meng was “taken away” for ques­tion­ing upon land­ing in China last week by what it said were “dis­ci­pline au­thor­i­ties.” The term usu­ally de­scribes in­ves­ti­ga­tors in the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party who probe graft and po­lit­i­cal dis­loy­alty.

But the Cen­tral Com­mis­sion for Dis­ci­pline In­spec­tion, the party’s se­cre­tive in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion agency, had no an­nounce­ments on its web­site about Meng and couldn’t be reached for com­ment.

Meng is the first per­son from China to serve as In­ter­pol’s pres­i­dent, a post that is largely sym­bolic but pow­er­ful in sta­tus. Be­cause In­ter­pol’s sec­re­tary gen­eral is re­spon­si­ble for the day-to-day run­ning of the agency’s op­er­a­tions, Meng’s ab­sence may have lit­tle oper­a­tional ef­fect.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion links up po­lice of­fi­cials from its 192 mem­ber states, who can use In­ter­pol to dis­sem­i­nate their search for a fugi­tive or a miss­ing per­son. Only at the be­hest of a coun­try does the in­for­ma­tion go pub­lic via a “red no­tice,” the clos­est thing to an in­ter­na­tional ar­rest war­rant. “Yel­low no­tices” are is­sued for miss­ing per­sons.

Meng has held var­i­ous po­si­tions within China’s se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment, in­clud­ing as a vice min­is­ter of pub­lic se­cu­rity since 2004.

His ap­point­ment as In­ter­pol pres­i­dent in 2016 alarmed some hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions, fear­ful it would em­bolden China to strike out at dis­si­dents and refugees abroad. His term as In­ter­pol pres­i­dent runs un­til 2020.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.