Interpol president missing after traveling to China

Meng Hongwei president of Interpol has not been heard from since travelling to China at the end of September. AFP

Meng Hongwei president of Interpol has not been heard from since travelling to China at the end of September. AFP

Meng, 64, has been unaccounted for since he left France for China in late September, Europe 1 radio reported. Officials under suspicion often disappear into the party's investigatory body, which can hold them for months without releasing information or providing them with legal counsel.

His wife said she hadn't heard from him since he traveled to China on September 29, Reuters reported.

The organisation's secretary general, not Meng, was responsible for the day-to-day running of Interpol, it said.

French paper Le Monde reported on Friday that this is not the first time a high-ranking Chinese official or businessmen living overseas has disappeared.

The South China Morning Post reported Friday that Meng Hongwei was placed under investigation in his native China as soon as he arrived in the country last week.

His Interpol appointment raised concerns among rights groups that Mr Meng would use his post to pursue Chinese President Xi Jinping's opponents.

Mr Meng has served in China as a vice minister for public security, an anti-narcotics official and a director of the National Counter-Terrorism Office.

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They were named by the MIVD as hackers Alexei Morenetz and Yevgeny Serebriakov, and support agents Oleg Sotnikov and Alexei Minin. The United States Department of Justice has charged Russian military intelligence officers with worldwide hacking offences.

In July a year ago, Meng gave a speech on the importance of cracking down on cyber crime which observers said might reflect China's views on the issue.

Meng's wife, who has remained in Lyon with their children according to police sources, was receiving protection, it said, adding: "Exchanges with Chinese authorities continue".

Interpol is the world's biggest police cooperation agency, with 192 member countries.

It does not have agents of its own with powers of arrest.

In 2014, it issued red notices for 100 Chinese fugitive officials living overseas.

Meng was elected president of Interpol in November 2016.

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