Wife of Chinese ex-Interpol boss granted asylum in France: lawyer

Lyon (AFP) –


The wife and children of former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, who vanished while visiting China in September last year, have been granted political asylum in France, the family's lawyer told AFP on Monday.

Grace Meng, who was given police protection after she alleged an abduction attempt at the start of the year, was granted asylum on May 2 along with the couple's two children, their lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny said.

Meng Hongwei disappeared last September after leaving the French city of Lyon, where Interpol is based, for China. He later sent his wife 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, the first Chinese president at the international police agency, had resigned, with China later saying he was being held on suspicion of taking bribes.

He was officially charged this month with accepting bribes that allowed him to illegally obtain several properties while Marine Police chief and vice minister in China.

But his wife said recently that Chinese officials had presented "no proof whatsoever to back up their charges."

In French media interviews she has said she fears for her life, and was afraid she and her seven-year-old twins would be the targets of kidnapping attempts.

In January, when she lodged her asylum request, she told Liberation newspaper that two Chinese businessmen, one of whom she knew, visited her at home in October and invited her to travel with them by private jet to the Czech Republic.

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

She also reported receiving "strange phone calls" and said she was once followed into a hotel by a Chinese couple who attempted to gather information about her.

Meng Hongwei is among a growing group of Communist Party cadres caught in President Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign, which critics say has served as a way to remove the leader's political enemies.

He has since been replaced as president of Interpol by South Korea's Kim Jong-yang.