China detained the vanished president of Interpol one month ago — and his wife fears hes dead

meng hongwei interpol.JPG
President Meng Hongwei, pictured here in Lyon in May, has been
missing for more than a month.

Pachoud/Pool via Reuters

  • Meng Hongwei, the Chinese president of Interpol,
    disappeared after traveling to China in late
  • China acknowledged on October 7 that it had detained
    Meng and was investigating him over bribery allegations.
    Interpol said it received his resignation that same
  • Beijing has gone silent since then.
  • Interpol said organization rules forbade an
    investigation into Meng’s disappearance.
  • Meng’s wife, Grace, said her husband’s disappearance
    was “political persecution” and that she wasn’t sure he was

It’s been more than a month since Beijing confirmed that the
vanished Interpol president had been detained in China, and we’re
no closer to knowing what happened.

Meng Hongwei disappeared after traveling to China on September
29. Beijing
broke its silence over the matter a week later
, on October 7,
saying that it had detained him and was investigating him over
bribery allegations.

That same day Interpol said it
received Meng’s resignation
— without specifying the source —
and accepted it “with immediate effect.”

Jürgen Stock, Interpol’s secretary-general, told
reporters on Thursday
that “there was no reason for me to
(suspect) that anything was forced or wrong” about the

meng hongwei interpol
vanished after he traveled to China in late


Details of China’s allegations against Meng remain unclear. His
detention appears to be part of a wider “anti-corruption drive”
led by President Xi Jinping since his ascendancy to the Chinese

Activists at Human Rights Watch believe Meng is kept under a form
of secret detention called liuzhi (留置), where the person is held
incommunicado without access to lawyers or relatives for up to
six months.

Sophie Richardson, the organization’s China director, told
Business Insider that “we assume but cannot confirm” that.

meng hongwei wife grace meng
wife Grace, pictured here in Lyon last month, says he might be
dead. She has declined to have her face


The wife’s fight

Meng’s wife, Grace, repeatedly denied China’s corruption charges
and claimed that her husband’s disappearance was “political

She told the BBC last month: “I’m not sure he’s alive. They are
cruel. They are dirty,” she added, referring to China’s tactics
to silence people.

Read more:
The Interpol chief who vanished in China is feared dead after
even his wife hasn’t heard from him in weeks

Grace Meng added that she
received a threatening phone call
shortly after Meng’s
disappearance, in which a man speaking in Chinese warned her not
to speak out.

Reuters reported
last week that Meng had retained two law
firms in London and Paris to track down her husband. Business
Insider contacted the two firms for comment on Meng’s next steps.

Below is the last text Grace Meng received from her husband on
September 25. It says in Chinese: “Wait for my call,” followed by
a knife emoji — a possible warning that he was in danger.

meng hongwei grace knife screenshotJohn

Interpol says it can’t investigate, but is “strongly encouraging”
China to speak out

The international police organization, where Meng was elected
president in 2016, has not provided much clarity either.

It has not released a public statement since October 7, when it
acknowledged Meng’s resignation and has not responded to Business
Insider’s request for comment.

Stock, Interpol’s secretary-general, said on Thursday that the
organization’s rules forbade him from investigating Meng’s

“We are not an investigative body,” he said, according to the
Associated Press. He added that “we are strongly encouraging
China” to provide details of Meng’s whereabouts.

guo wengui gerard collomb jurgen stock princes charles
left to right: Then-French interior minister Gérard Collomb,
Interpol secretary general Jürgen Stock, Prince Charles, and
then-Interpol president Meng Hongwei at Interpol’s headquarters
in Lyon in May 2018.

Jeff Pachoud/Pool
Photo via AP

Richardson of Human Rights Watch told Business Insider: “If
President Xi was even remotely serious about the rule of law,
Meng would be guaranteed fair trial rights, but that is highly
unlikely to happen given the profound politicization of China’s
legal system.”

Rights groups protested Meng’s election to the Interpol
presidency at the time, citing his previous work at China’s
ministry of public security in Xinjiang
and Tibet.
The two regions are home to the country’s Uighur and Tibetan
ethnic minorities, who Beijing has attempted to muzzle.

During Meng’s tenure, China submitted multiple “red notices” —
Interpol arrest warrants — for dissidents around the world.

Read more:
Barging into your home, threatening your family, or making you
disappear: Here’s what China does to people who speak out against

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the 86th INTERPOL General Assembly at Beijing National Convention Center on September 26, 2017 in Beijing, China.  REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/Pool
President Xi Jinping speaks at Interpol’s general assembly in
Beijing in 2017, one year after Meng was elected to preside over
the organization.


Roderic Wye, an associate fellow at Chatham House and
former first secretary in the British Embassy in Beijing,

told Business Insider
last month that public disappearances
were not unusual in China, especially in politics.

“It is often a sign that someone has got into trouble if they
fail to appear in public doing their normal duties for a period
of time,” he said.

Earlier this year Chinese authorities publicly disappeared
Chinese actress Fan Bingbing
for three months after she was
accused of evading taxes.

Read more:
The humbling of Fan Bingbing is a warning shot from China to
anyone who thinks they can defy them