Interpol says it received resignation from missing chief

Grace Meng would not allow her face to be shown over fears for her safety

Grace Meng would not allow her face to be shown over fears for her safety

Earlier on Sunday, China officially confirmed that the Chinese head of the Interpol is being investigated for suspected breach of law.

The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) on Sunday received the resignation of its Chinese president Meng Hongwei, who was missing since over a week.

His case could tarnish Beijing's efforts to gain leadership posts in global organisations, but it is also a black eye for France-based Interpol, which is tasked with finding missing people, analysts say.

Interpol said later that Mr Meng had resigned as president of the organisation, and that South Korean national Kim Jong Yang would become its acting president, while it would appoint a new president at a Nov 18 to 21 meeting of the organisation in Dubai. His wife has been placed under French police protection since reporting his disappearance, Agence France-Presse said, citing the interior ministry.

Meng is the first person from China to serve as Interpol's president, a post that is largely symbolic but powerful in status.

Grace Meng told reporters in Lyon, France, that she thinks her husband was trying to tell her he was in danger.

French media also reported that Meng's husband had recently sent her a mobile phone message featuring a knife image, as a way of showing her that he felt he was in danger.

Grace Meng relayed her fears for her husband less than an hour before the disciplinary organ of China's ruling Communist Party said he was under investigation.

Meng Hongwei has deep ties to China's sprawling domestic security sector, including a lengthy term as vice minister of public security.

It was unclear how Meng, the first Chinese national to lead Interpol, could have fallen foul of the Chinese authorities.

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Because Interpol's secretary general is responsible for the day-to-day running of the agency's operations, Meng's absence may have little operational effect.

The unusual case erupted into public view on Friday, when French authorities announced a search for the Chinese national after his wife Grace, who is living in France, reported him missing to local police.

Steve Tsang, director of SOAS China Institute in London, said that given Meng's seniority, any decision to detain him must have come from the highest levels of the Chinese government.

She would not allow reporters to show her face, saying she feared for her own safety and the safety of her children.

Mrs Meng said she has had no further contact with her husband since she received the knife image on 25 September. "For the husband whom I deeply love, for my young children, for the people of my motherland, for all the wives and children, so that their husbands and fathers will no longer disappear".

Meng's seizure on suspicion of corruption is an ironic reversal for a Chinese official whose ascent to the top of Interpol was supposed to aid Beijing's efforts in catching corrupt runaway officials.

Under President Xi Jinping, China has been engaged in a crackdown on corruption.

At the time, Amnesty International called Meng's appointment "at odds with Interpol's mandate to work in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights".

When Meng was named Interpol's president in November 2016, human-rights groups expressed concern that Beijing might try to leverage his position to pursue dissidents overseas.

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