Interpol President Meng Hongwei has been reported missing after travelling to his native China, a French judicial official said.
The 64-year-old’s wife contacted police in Lyon, the French city where the agency has its headquarters, after not hearing from her husband since he flew to China on 29 September.
In a statement, Interpol said the whereabouts of its president is “a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China.” It added the organisation’s secretary general Juergen Stock, not Meng, was responsible for the day-to-day running of Interpol.
“Interpol’s General Secretariat headquarters will not comment further.”
Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post quoted an unnamed source as saying Meng, 64, was under investigation in China and had been taken away for questioning as soon as he landed there.
Interpol said it was aware of reports in connection with Meng’s “alleged disappearance.”
The organisation’s main function is to provide a mechanism for police forces in different countries to notify each other of wanted suspects.
Meng has held several senior positions in China, including vice minister of public security and he previously served as vice chairman of the national narcotics control commission and director of the National Counter-Terrorism Office.
He was named chief of Interpol in 2016 and his term is due to run until 2020. Rights groups expressed concern when he was appointed that Beijing might try to use Meng’s position at the body to go after dissidents abroad.
Beijing has tried for many years to enlist the help of foreign countries to arrest and deport back to China citizens it accuses of crimes, including corruption and terrorism.
In July last year, Meng gave a speech on the importance of cracking down on cyber crime which observers said might reflect China’s views on the issue.
Police sources said Meng’s wife and children remained in Lyon.