Missing ex-Interpol chief’s wife seeks asylum in France

Reuters, PARIS

Sun, Jan 20, 2019 - Page 1

Grace Meng (孟昭文), wife of missing former Interpol president Meng Hongwei (孟宏偉), applied for asylum in France fearing for her life, her lawyer said on Friday.

Then-boss of Lyon, France-based Interpol went missing in September last year after traveling back to his native China.

France opened an inquiry and China said that he was under investigation for bribery.

No word has been heard from Meng Hongwei since a WhatsApp message to his wife on Sept. 25 saying “wait for my call.”

The Web site of France Info radio station quoted her on Friday as saying that in the past few weeks in Lyon she has been followed by strangers, received suspicious telephone calls and had her car license plates photographed by mysterious people.

“I need the French government to protect, to assist and help me and my children,” she told France Info. “I am afraid I may be kidnapped.”

Her lawyer, Emmanuel Marsigny, told reporters that she had recently applied for asylum after being under police protection since soon after her husband’s disappearance.

Meng Hongwei, a deputy minister of public security in China, became president of Interpol in late 2016 amid a broader effort by China to secure leadership posts in international organizations.

Presidents of the international police organization are seconded from their national administrations.

Interpol, which groups 192 nations and is usually focused on finding missing or wanted people, is run on a day-to-day basis by its secretary-general, Juergen Stock.

Interpol said Meng Hongwei had resigned and it elected Kim Jong-yang of South Korea as president in November last year.

French authorities declined to comment on the asylum request.