China detains Interpol chief

China has confirmed it is holding Meng Hongwei, the head of the International Criminal Police Organization, commonly known as Interpol, who has been missing since September 25, when he left headquarters of the international organization established in 1923 to facilitate international police cooperation.

Meng is under investigation by China’s anti-corruption body for unspecified breaches of the law.

Meng, who is also listed as a vice-minister of public security in China, was reported missing after travelling from the city of Lyon in France, where Interpol is based, to China.

Grace Meng, his wife, told journalists she thought he was in danger and issued an emotional plea for international help to find her husband.

On Saturday, the international police agency urged China to clarify Meng’s status, saying it was concerned about the well-being of its president.

The mystery of what happened to Mr Meng has now been cleared up: but the details of the charges weighing against him, and the fate that awaits him are as opaque as ever.

The missing Interpol president has deep ties to China’s sprawling domestic security sector, including a lengthy term as vice minister of public security prior to his 2016 election as Interpol’s president.

In April 2018, China withdrew Meng’s membership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

According to Interpol’s website, in May he delivered a speech in Ireland in which he discussed the changing face of global crime and the need for Interpol to remain above political considerations.

“First, it is obvious that globalization, virtualization and high-tech are the new features of crime. Second, crime has become a global security issue. This was not the case in the past,” Meng said. He also referred to the global governance structure as “entering a period of change,” saying that, “Under such circumstances, I hope that we will adhere to our neutral and apolitical positions on major issues.”

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.

The Chinese security establishment has long been riddled with corruption, opacity and human rights abuses.

Zhou Yongkang, a former security chief and Politburo Standing Committee member, is serving a life sentence for corruption as one of the highest-profile officials caught up in President Xi Jinping’s sprawling campaign against graft at all levels of government, military and state industry.

Zhou and Meng worked closely in the past.

Meng continued to hold positions in the Chinese security establishment concurrently with his post at Interpol.

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