Interpol chief Meng Hongwei vanishes on trip to China

Meng Hongwei head of Interpol declared missing

Its statement said the agency "looks forward to an official response from China's authorities to address concerns over the president's well-being".

French officials said that members of Meng's family have not heard from him since he departed from the French city of Lyon on September 25, according to a report from the BBC.

France is investigating the disappearance of Meng, who is also a senior Chinese security official, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

But news of his absence was swiftly followed by speculation that Meng - who also serves as a vice minister of China's Ministry of Public Security - had been swept up in Beijing's secretive anti-corruption campaign.

China's Ministry of Public Security did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

His appointment as Interpol president in 2016 alarmed some human rights organisations, fearful it would embolden China to strike out at dissidents and refugees overseas.

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While Meng is head of the executive committee that oversees Interpol, the agency is run by the secretary general.

Though few details have emerged, the mysterious circumstances of Meng's disappearance have already prompted criticisms of Chinese authorities' lack of transparency. The paper reported that after landing, Meng was "taken away" for questioning by what it said were "discipline authorities".

The South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based newspaper known for its connections inside the Chinese government, reported that Meng is under investigation in China for unspecified reasons.

According to reports in Chinese media, "Meng's position at China's Ministry of Public Security as a vice-minister had become untenable, as he lost his seat on its Communist Party Committee in April".

Has Meng Hongwei angered China?

Interpol, which groups 192 countries and which is usually focused on finding people who are missing or wanted, said it was aware of reports about Meng's "alleged disappearance".

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China yesterday remained silent over the disappearance of the head of Interpol, deepening the mystery over the global police chief's fate after reports said he was detained for questioning on arrival in his homeland.

The 36-year-old took to China's Twitter-like Weibo to acknowledge her wrongs, beg for her supporters" forgiveness, and apologise to "society, the friends who care about me, the public and the national tax authorities'.

Xi has placed a premium on getting officials and businesspeople accused of fraud and corruption to return from overseas, making Meng's position even more sensitive.

China now has 44 outstanding red notices, mostly related to murder, intentional injury and drug smuggling, according to Interpol's web site.

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

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