By Gaspard Sebag
PARIS - France is investigating the disappearance of Interpol President Meng Hongwei, who is also a senior Chinese security official, a person familiar with the matter said Friday, as reports indicated that he may have been taken into custody in China.
The probe was opened by the prosecutor in Lyon, where Interpol is based, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the status of the case is confidential. Interpol acknowledged the reports about Meng, and said in an email that it “is a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China.”
Meng was taken into custody immediately upon his arrival in China last week for questioning by authorities, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a source it didn’t identify.
After a 40-year policing and criminal justice career, Meng is now China’s deputy minister of public security. His experience ranges from narcotics control to counter-terrorism, according to Interpol’s website. After being elected as the head of the global policing agency in November 2016, Meng took a particular interest in cyber-crime. His term is due to expire in 2020.
No one at the French Presidency was immediately available for comment, and Chinese officials didn’t immediately respond to a fax and phone calls for information on Meng’s whereabouts.
Meng’s wife alerted the French authorities, leading to the opening of the probe, Europe 1 radio reported earlier, without specifying how it had obtained the information. Meng’s family hasn’t received any news from him since his Sept. 29 departure for China, according to Europe 1.
While Meng is head of the executive committee that oversees Interpol, the agency is run by Secretary General Juergen Stock.