The Slatest

The President of Interpol Has Gone Missing in China

A smiling Meng Hongwei.
Interpol President Meng Hongwei on May 8 in Lyon, France.
Pool/Getty Images

The president of Interpol, the entity that connects police forces internationally, is missing, Reuters reports.

Meng Hongwei, who had been living in France, was reported missing after traveling to China, French police said Friday.

According to Reuters, his wife contacted the police after not hearing from him since he left for his home country on Sept. 29. An anonymous official told the South China Morning Post that Meng had been taken away for questioning when he landed in China, as he was under investigation there.

Meng, a former government minister in China, was named president of Interpol in 2016. According to Reuters, the role is mostly ceremonial, and the secretary general is tasked with overseeing more day-to-day work.

As the Washington Post notes, it seems possible he was swept up in China’s anti-corruption campaign, in which officials disappear and then months later reappear when the government brings official charges. China has in the past few years submitted lists to Interpol of Chinese citizens they sought to have extradited on corruption charges, according to the Post.

Critics and rights groups have worried that, at a time when China was being heavy-handed about extraditions, it could use Meng’s position to have Interpol go after people who are actually political dissidents abroad. China has issued international alerts for dissident figures in the past after the government claimed they had ties to terrorism or have dangerous information.

Interpol has said it was aware of the reports of Meng’s “alleged disappearance” but that the matter was for French and Chinese authorities to handle.