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Wife of ex-Interpol president lashes out at 'cruel' China

Grace Meng says there is 'no limit' on Chinese officials' power to target individuals deemed as their opponents.

Grace Meng

The wife of former Interpol president Meng Hongwei has lambasted China as "cruel" and said she is unsure if her husband is still alive after he was detained by Chinese officials last month.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC aired on Friday, Grace Meng said her partner was a victim of "political persecution" and alleged there was "no limit" to China's power to act against individuals deemed as opponents.

"I tell [my children] daddy is on a long business trip," Grace Meng told the BBC from France, where Meng worked at Interpol's headquarters in the eastern city of Lyon.

The 64-year-old, also a Chinese vice public security minister, went missing while on a trip to China last month.

Almost two weeks later, on October 7, Interpol announced Meng had resigned as president of the international police organisation after Chinese authorities declared he was under investigation on suspicion of accepting bribes.

The body investigating Meng, the National Supervisory Commission, can hold suspects for as long as six months without providing access to legal counsel.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has headed an anti-corruption drive which has penalised more than one million officials since he assumed office in 2012.

The crackdown has wide support from citizens weary of extensive high-level corruption, but some analysts say it also enables the Chinese president to eliminate rivals.

One of the most powerful officials to fall was former security ministry chief Zhou Yongkang, who promoted Meng more than a decade ago and was sentenced to life in prison in 2014.

The relatives of fallen officials are typically silenced, and Grace Meng's outspoken advocacy on behalf of her husband, who she has repeatedly alleged is innocent, is somewhat unprecedented.

Last week, she told the Associated Press in an interview that she had received a threatening phone call warning of Chinese agents coming for her in France.

Speaking out about her husband's situation was placing her "in great danger", she said.


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