Wife of missing ex-Interpol chief says arrest in China politically motivated

by Reuters
Thursday, 28 March 2019 22:56 GMT

(Adds comments from CCDI and Grace Meng, context on Xi visit and wife asylum request)

By Emmanuel Jarry and John Irish

PARIS, March 28 (Reuters) - The wife of the missing Chinese former head of Interpol on Thursday dismissed allegations by authorities in China accusing her husband of graft and said his arrest was politically motivated.

China will prosecute former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei for graft after an investigation found he spent "lavish" amounts of state funds, abused his power and refused to follow Communist Party decisions, Beijing's anti-corruption watchdog said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The press release openly reveals the political nature of Mr Meng's case, without addressing the issues concerning our family's fundamental human rights," Grace Meng said in a statement sent to Reuters by her lawyers.

Interpol, the global police coordination agency based in France, said last October that Meng had resigned as its president, days after his wife reported him missing while he was on a trip to China.

The Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said Meng was suspected of taking bribes and causing serious harm to the party's image and state interests, adding he should be severely dealt with.

Grace Meng, who has remained in Lyon, France with the couple's two children, said China had failed to provide any information about Meng's whereabouts or well-being.

"Instead, the CCDI made vague, general, uncorroborated statements," she said. "Chinese authorities have not formulated actual charges or adduced the alleged supporting evidence."

The CCDI issued its statement after Chinese President Xi Jinping returned from a state visit to France, where President Emmanuel Macron raised the issue of human rights in China and certain specific cases, a French presidency official said.

Grace Meng, who applied for asylum in France in January, had written to Macron ahead of Xi's trip, seeking his help.

A source close to the investigation said Beijing had not asked for her extradition and her asylum request was still under consideration.

The Chinese anti-graft body said Meng Hongwei had "refused to enact decisions of the party centre" and abused his power for private gain. He "wantonly and lavishly spent state funds to satisfy his family's luxurious lifestyle", it said.

In her statement, Grace said her husband was well-known in China for his reformist views and had in March 2017 tendered his resignation to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

Meng, 65, was appointed president of Interpol in late 2016, part of a broader Chinese effort to gain leadership positions in key international organizations.

Under Xi, China has been engaged in a sweeping crackdown on official corruption. (Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry and John Irish; editing by Grant McCool and Rosalba O'Brien)

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