Jan. 20, 2019– Mary Greeley News – The wife of former Chinese Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, being held in his home country on corruption charges, has applied for asylum in France, her lawyer said.
Grace Meng has remained in the French city of Lyon, the place of Interpol’s headquarters, since her husband disappeared while visiting China in September. It was later revealed that he has been arrested.
She told Franceinfo radio and the Liberation newspaper that she fears for her life and that of their twin sons, despite being under French police protection.
“I need the French government to protect me, to assist me, to help me and my children,” she said. “I am afraid of being kidnapped.”
Her lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny told Reuters news agency she had recently applied for asylum after being under police protection soon after her husband disappeared.
French authorities declined to comment to Reuters.
A former vice minister for public security in China who rose through the ranks of the country’s feared security apparatus, Meng was the first Chinese head of the international police organization.
He was last heard from on September 25 as he left Lyon for China, when he sent his wife a social media message telling her to “wait for my call” and then a knife emoji signifying danger.
Meng, who has refused to specify her Chinese given name or to have her face photographed or filmed by the news media, said in interviews Friday that she was seeking French protection for her and her twin boys.
“I cannot go back to China; such strange things happen there, and fundamental rights are not respected,” she told the newspaper Libération. “Even here, I am afraid of being kidnapped, and I fear for the safety of my children.”
Grace Meng was put under French police protection shortly after her husband’s arrest. In the interviews published Friday, she said she had not had any contact with her husband or with any friends or relatives in China since the arrest, and her Chinese phone and email had been blocked. Strangers had followed her and had tried to get her to travel with them, she said, and she had received threatening phone calls.
“I need the French government to protect me, to assist me, to help me, me and my children,” Meng told Radio France in an off-air interview Friday.
Both Libération and Radio France reported that Meng was supposed to go to the French asylum agency headquarters in Paris on Friday to file an official request. The agency was not immediately reachable for comment Saturday, and it was not clear whether she had sufficient grounds to claim asylum.
In November, Interpol elected a South Korean police veteran as its next president to replace Meng Hongwei, who was halfway through his four-year term when he was detained.
Interpol, which functions as a sort of clearinghouse for the circulation of arrest warrants, tips and data, does not have direct policing powers of its own. Its presidency is a largely ceremonial role that entails chairing meetings and representing the institution at official events; a secretary general runs the police organization on a day-to-day basis.
Jürgen Stock, the secretary- general, has said repeatedly that Interpol does not have a say in a state’s internal affairs and was not in a position to prevent the arrest of Meng Hongwei.
Grace Meng has denied that her husband is guilty of corruption.
“We don’t have any secret accounts abroad, no hidden money,” she told Libération.