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France grants asylum to wife of vanished Interpol boss

Former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei was reported missing on a visit to China last September.
Former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei was reported missing on a visit to China last September. Jeff Pachoud/Pool via Reuters

The wife and children of former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, who disappeared on a visit to China in September last year, have been granted political asylum in France.

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Grace Meng was given police protection after she claimed to be the target of an abduction attempt at the start of the year.

On 2 May, she and her seven-year-old twins were granted political asylum in France, their lawyer told AFP Agency.

She previously told French media she fears for her life and was afraid she and her children would be targets of attempted kidnappings.

When she lodged her request in January, she told media that two Chinese businessmen, one of whom she knew, visited her at home the month after her husband’s disappearance and invited her to travel with them to the Czech Republic in a private jet.

She also claimed the Chinese consulate in Lyon said they had a letter from her husband but that she had to show up in person to collect it.

She also claimed to receive “strange phone calls” and to have been followed into a hotel by a Chinese couple attempting to gather information about her.

Anti-corruption crackdown

Her husband, Meng Hongwei, was the first ever Chinese head of Interpol before he became part of a growing group of Communist Party functionaries entangled in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft drive.

Critics say the wide-ranging crackdown on corruption and perceived disloyalty has served as a way to strengthen party control and remove the leader’s political enemies.

He left the French city of Lyon, where the international police organisation is based, for China last autumn, later sending Grace a social media message telling her to “wait for my call,” and then a knife emoji, signifying danger.

A few weeks later, Interpol was informed that Meng had resigned. Beijing later said the first Chinese head of the agency was being held on suspicion of taking bribes.

This month, Meng was officially charged with accepting bribes in order to obtain, illegally, several properties.

His wife recently said Chinese officials had presented “no proof whatsoever to back up their charges”.

(with wires)

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