Vanished Interpol President Sent Knife Emoji to Wife After Being Arrested in China
Meng Hongwei, the Chinese Interpol president who vanished last month, is being detaid in his home country.
In a statement on Monday, the National Supervisory Commission (NSC) announced that the official is being investigated for bribery and other unspecified crimes, a day after the Interpol disclosed his resignation.
Meng, 64, disappeared late last month after returning to China, where he is also a deputy public security minister.
His wife, Grace, said in a press conference in Lyon, France — where the Interpol is based — that she had not heard of him since Sept. 25, when she received his final text message.
“Wait for my call,” Meng wrote before sending a knife emoji.
Grace pleaded with national governments for help, saying that she feared for her husband’s life.
“This matter belongs to the international community,” Grace told reporters. “I’m not sure what has happened to him.”
Meng’s family — who also received threats — has since been placed under protective custody, according to the French interior ministry.
In an earlier statement, the Chinese government reserved what Meng is being accused of, having analysts speculate that something urgent had occurred.
“I’m pretty sure they would have expected an extraordinary response from the international community before taking such a decision,” Zhang Lifan, a political commentator in Beijing, told the South China Morning Post. “I guess something urgent must have happened. That’s why [the authorities] choose to take such immediate action, at the risk of losing face on the international stage.”
Meng was appointed the president of the Interpol in 2016 for a four-year term. He oversaw work in counterterrorism, immigration and narcotics control, to name a few.
“If what Meng is involved in is nothing more than an ordinary corruption case, there would have been no need for the authorities to handle it in such a manner,” Zhang added.
But as it turned out, Meng is China’s latest high-profile target in a sweeping anti-corruption campaign that began since President Xi Jinping took power, CNN reported.
The official is being accused of accepting bribes and other unspecified violations in state law.
“(Meng) insisted on taking the wrong path and had only himself to blame (for his downfall),” said Zhao Kezhi, China’s top law enforcement official.
The news raised questions as to whom Meng might have angered or what he could have done to be targeted. There are also concerns that international institutions will be reluctant to appoint Chinese officials in high-ranking offices.
Regardless, Meng’s disappearance impacts China’s image in the global community, analysts said.
“There’s obviously going to be some bad publicity around this and it’s not like China doesn’t care about this,” Tom Rafferty, head of the Economist Intelligence Unit in Beijing, told BBC. “But whatever they want Mr. Meng for has in this case trumped their concern for international public opinion.”
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