Wife of ex-Interpol chief seeks asylum in France

France President Macron

Paris, Jan 18 : The wife of Meng Hongwei, the former Interpol chief held in China since September, has sought asylum in France for herself and her twin children.

Grace Meng and the seven-year-olds live in the French city of Lyon, the international police agency’s headquarters.

Meng Hongwei, also a Chinese Vice Public Security Minister, went missing on a trip to China in late September. His wife said at the time that the last contact she received from him was a text message saying to wait for his call, followed minutes later by a knife emoji.

In October, the Chinese authorities said Meng Hongwei was being investigated over suspected bribe-taking.

His wife and children are under police protection, having received threats.

“I fear they will kidnap me. I’ve received strange phone calls. Even my car was damaged. Two Chinese — a man and woman — followed me to the hotel,” Grace Meng was cited as saying by the BBC on Friday.

Since her husband’s disappearance on September 25, no details have emerged about his prison conditions or the charges against him.

The 65-year-old’s job as Interpol President was largely ceremonial and did not require him to return to China often.

He previously worked under security czar Zhou Yongkang, one of the most powerful figures to be taken down in President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign that has targeted over a million officials.

Meng Hongwei was elected Interpol President in November 2016, the first Chinese person to take up the post, and was scheduled to serve until 2020.

China’s new National Supervision Commission — an anti-corruption agency — said Meng was being investigated for “violation of laws”. However, China has not presented any evidence to justify the allegation against Meng Hongwei.

Beijing said he had written a resignation letter and Interpol Secretary-General Jürgen Stock acknowledged that he had received it on October 7. “There was no reason for me to (suspect) that anything was forced or wrong,” he said.

In November, Interpol elected South Korean Kim Jong-yang as its new President, rejecting a Russian candidate who had been tipped to succeed Meng Hongwei.

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