Wife of ex-Interpol chief Meng Hongwei granted asylum in France - lawyer


  • World
  • Wednesday, 15 May 2019

PARIS (Reuters) - The wife of ex-Interpol chief Meng Hongwei has been granted asylum in France, her lawyer said.

Interpol, the global police coordination agency based in France, said last October that Meng had resigned as its president, days after his wife, Grace Meng, reported him missing after he travelled back to his home country of China.

Chinese prosecutors this month filed formal charges against Meng, accusing him of abuse of power and taking bribes.

In March, China's ruling Communist Party said its own investigation into Meng found he spent "lavish" amounts of state funds, abused his power and refused to follow party decisions.

His wife has dismissed the allegations and said his arrest was politically motivated.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he was unaware of the specifics of the situation regarding Meng's wife, but her husband's case was a normal one not connected to "political factors".

"I can tell you that Meng Hongwei is suspected of taking bribes," Geng told a daily news briefing.

If Meng's wife had sought asylum in France then it was "completely an abuse of France's legal procedures", he added.

"Good political mutual trust is the basis for the healthy and stable development of Sino-French relations. We hope that in this case, both China and France can jointly handle it properly according to the law on the basis of good cooperation."

Meng Hongwei became president of the global police cooperation agency in late 2016 as China widened its bid to secure leadership posts in international organisations.

His appointment prompted concern at the time from rights groups that China might try to leverage his position to pursue dissidents abroad.

Under President Xi Jinping, China has pursued a sweeping crackdown on official corruption.

(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Catherine Evans)