The whereabouts of one of the most high-profile missing people in China have been established, with officials confirming they are holding Meng Hongwei.
The 64-year-old Meng had been reported missing after returning to China from Interpol’s headquarters in France.
“Public Security Ministry Vice-Minister Meng Hongwei is currently under investigation by the National Supervisory Commission for suspected violations of law,” the Chinese anti-corruption body said on its website.
Meng Hongwei: China confirms detention of Interpol chief https://t.co/E7jnqnPVLT
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) October 7, 2018
China’s anti-corruption watchdog did not give further details on what laws Meng is alleged to have broken.
Shortly after, Interpol released a media statement saying Meng Hongwei had resigned from his position with “immediate effect”. Under the terms of Interpol’s constitution and internal regulations, South Korea Kim Jong Yang has become Acting President.
Interpol General Secretary Jürgen Stock said the international criminal police organisation was seeking clarification on why Meng is being held.
“Interpol’s General Secretariat looks forward to an official response from China’s authorities to address concerns over the President’s well-being.”
Statement by the INTERPOL General Secretariat on the resignation of
Meng Hongwei. pic.twitter.com/c2daKd9N39
— INTERPOL (@INTERPOL_HQ) October 7, 2018
Meng sent his wife a knife emoji before disappearing
Meng’s wife Grace, who is still in France, has been placed under police protection. She told reporters she had not been in contact with Meng since 25 September when he sent her a message saying: ‘Wait for my call’ then a knife emoji from his Interpol phone.
During her comments to reporters, she kept her back to the camera, a security precaution she said was necessary to protect the couple’s children.
She said the call never came. On the knife image, she said: “I think he means he is in danger.”
“From now on, I have gone from sorrow and fear to the pursuit of truth, justice and responsibility toward history,” she said. “For the husband whom I deeply love, for my young children, for the people of my motherland, for all the wives and children’s husbands and fathers to no longer disappear.”
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 7, 2018
Meng Hongwei is just one of a number of high-profile people in China to go missing this year. Popular actress Fan Bingbing was secretly detained in July, triggering months of concern and speculation. Last week, she made her first public appearance in four months and it emerged that she had been fined US$130 million for tax evasion.
President Xi Jinping has led a widespread anti-corruption drive, which has been viewed as a purge of his political enemies by critics.
Header image credit: ITU Pictures