China admits it arrested Interpol president

China says Meng Hongwei is in custody following weeks of speculation regarding sudden disappearance of senior law enforcement official.

Tags: Interpol China
Tzvi Lev ,

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China admitted that it had arrested the president of the international police organization Interpol, a few weeks after he suddenly disappeared.

In a short statement, China said that Meng Hongwei is in custody for and is "under investigation by the National Supervision Commission for alleged violations of laws".

Shortly after China's announcement that Hongwei was arrested, Interpol released a statement saying that Hongwei had resigned as president of the organization "with immediate effect".

Meng was last seen leaving for China from Interpol's headquarters in Lyon, southeast France, in late September, the source said. His wife reported him missing.

"He did not disappear in France," the source told AFP.

Europe reported that he left the country on September 29.

The South China Morning Post on Friday quoted as source as saying that Meng, 64, was "taken away" for questioning in China.

Before being elected head of Interpol in November 2016, Meng was vice minister of public security in China, which critics say gave him control over the secret police.

He was the first Chinese leader of Interpol, which connects the law enforcement agencies of its 192 member countries but which does not have agents of its own with powers of arrest.

Beijing saw Meng's election as a chance to enlist more international help in tracking down alleged economic criminals, including corrupt officials, targeted by President Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign.

However the drive, known as Operation Fox Hunt, has led to claims in some countries that Chinese law enforcement agents have been operating covertly on their soil without the approval or consent of local authorities.

Meng's term is scheduled to run until 2020