Interpol chief Meng Hongwei vanishes on trip to China

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French police have launched an investigation after the wife of Interpol director Meng Hongwei reported her husband missing.

Meng Hongwei's wife reported him missing on Friday, the official said.

Meng was appointed head of Interpol in 2016. Other police sources also confirmed the investigation to the Reuters news agency.

Meng Hongwei was elected president of Interpol in November 2016.

Meng is listed on the website of China's Ministry of Public Security as a vice-minister, but lost his seat on its key Communist Party Committee in April, the South China Morning Post reported.

Meng's duties in China would have put him in close proximity to former leaders, some of whom had fallen afoul of President Xi Jinping's sweeping crackdown on corruption.

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Presidents of Interpol are seconded from their national administrations and remain in their home post while representing the worldwide policing body.

Meng, who previously served as China's vice minister of public security, was elected to lead the worldwide police organization in 2016.

At the time of his appointment, human rights groups expressed concern about the opacity of China's legal system and warned that Beijing could use its clout in Interpol to arrest political dissidents.

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.

The secretary-general of Interpol is responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation. Interpol and Chinese authorities have remained silent so far.

Reuters was not immediately able to reach China's Ministry of Public Security for comment.