- Meng Hongwei, a Chinese official who served as former Interpol president, went missing under mysterious circumstances last September.
- China said at the time that it had detained Meng over bribery allegations.
- The Chinese Communist Party on Wednesday announced that it had expelled Meng, accusing him of abusing his position, and squandering state funds to fund an “extravagant” lifestyle for his family.
- Meng’s fall from grace appears to be part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, which critics argue is simply a means of removing his political rivals.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) abruptly expelled Meng Hongwei, the former Interpol president who disappeared without a trace six months ago.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the CCP’s watchdog, on Wednesday accused Meng of abusing his position in China for personal gain, violating Chinese law and party discipline, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.
The party also accused Meng of squandering state funds to fund his family’s “extravagant lifestyle,” The Associated Press said.
On top of serving as Interpol president Meng had been a member of the CCP’s Central Committee – a 205-member body comprising the top leaders of the party – and vice-minister for public security, the SCMP said.
There were no further details on Meng’s charges. The party is now opening an investigation into Meng, the SCMP reported.
Meng went missing on September 29, 2018, during a trip from Lyon, France – where Interpol is based – to China.
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 a resignation letter from Meng – without specifying the source – and accepted it “with immediate effect.” Jürgen Stock, Interpol’s secretary-general, said there was “no reason for me to [suspect] that anything was forced or wrong” about the resignation.
Interpol has refused to investigate Meng’s disappearance, saying organizational rules forbid it.
A spokesman for the agency told Business Insider it would not comment on Meng’s charges because “these are ongoing legal proceedings,” adding: “Any charges brought by a country against one of its own citizens is a national issue.”
Meng’s detention appears to be part of a wider “anti-corruption drive” instigated by President Xi Jinping since becoming China’s leader in 2012. Under Xi, the Communist Party has punished at least 1.3 million party members, many of whom are high-profile figures in the country, according to the South China Morning Post.
Critics say Xi has used the campaign to purge his political rivals – an allegation he denies.
Meng’s wife, Grace, said she last heard from her husband via WhatsApp on September 25, four days before his disappearance.
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.
Activists at Human Rights Watch believe Meng is being kept under a form of secret detention called liuzhi, where the person is held incommunicado without access to lawyers or relatives for up to six months.
Grace Meng has claimed that her husband was a victim of “political persecution” and told the BBC in October: “I’m not sure he’s alive. They are cruel. They are dirty,” she added, referring to China’s tactics to silence people.
Her lawyers told Business Insider in November that it had sent questions about Meng’s disappearance to Interpol and the Chinese government, but had not yet heard back from either of them.
Business Insider has contacted the lawyers for an update.
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