China said on Monday that the president of Interpol, who went missing shortly after arrival in his home country, is under investigation for possible criminal activity, as Beijing broke its silence about his fate.
Meng Hongwei, who is also China’s vice minister of public security, “is currently under investigation on suspicion of violating the law”, according to a statement on the website of the National Supervisory Commission, which handles corruption cases involving public servants.
Meng, the first Chinese president of Interpol, was last heard from on September 25 as he left Lyon — where the international police organisation is based — for China.
His disappearance was disclosed by French officials on Friday but China had remained tight-lipped about his status until now.
Meng had lived with his wife and two children in France since being elected Interpol president in 2016.
The agency’s secretary general Juergen Stock, who oversees day-to-day operations, said on Saturday that it was seeking “clarification” on his whereabouts from Chinese authorities.
It is the latest high-profile disappearance in China, where a number of top government officials, billionaire business magnates and even an A-list celebrity have vanished for weeks or months at a time. When, or if, they reappear, it is often in court.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday in France, Meng’s wife said she feared that her husband’s life was in danger.
“This matter belongs to the international community,” Meng’s wife told a press conference.
China’s recently established National Supervisory Commission holds sweeping powers to investigate the country’s public servants with few requirements for transparency.
Although the commission did not detail the allegations against Meng, its mandate is to investigate corruption cases as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft campaign.
Some critics of the effort — which has punished more than one million officials — say it also functions as a tool for Xi to eliminate his political rivals.