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China says ex-Interpol chief under probe for 'bribery' at home

Beijing/Paris

CHINA said on Monday it was investigating former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei for bribery and other violations, days after the French authorities said the Chinese official had been reported missing by his wife after having travelled to his home country.

Under President Xi Jinping, China has launched a crackdown on official corruption. On Sunday, Interpol, the France-based global police coordination body, said Mr Meng had resigned as its president.

China's Ministry of Public Security said on its website: "The investigation against Meng Hongwei taking bribes and being suspected of violating the law is very timely, absolutely correct and rather wise.

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"It fully shows there is no privilege and no exception before the law, and anyone who violates it must be severely punished."

French media on Sunday broadcast a video of Mr Meng's wife Grace speaking to journalists at a hotel in Lyon, her back to a TV camera in order to give her anonymity. She said in a trembling voice: "This is a matter for the international community. It concerns the people of my motherland."

Mr Meng, 64, became president of the global police cooperation agency in late 2016 amid a broader effort by China to secure leadership posts in international organisations. His appointment raised concern at the time from rights groups that Beijing may use his position to pursue dissidents abroad.

France's Interior Ministry said Mr Meng's family had not heard from him since Sept 25; French officials said his wife was under police guard in Lyon, where Interpol is headquartered. She has received threats.

Presidents of Interpol are seconded from their national administrations and remain in their home post while representing the international policing body. A source at the agency declined to say whether it was usual for an Interpol president to bring his family to France, or whether Interpol provided housing for them. REUTERS