Interpol says missing president has resigned after wife reveals ominous message

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Meng, the first Chinese president of Interpol, was last heard from on September 25 as he left Lyon - where the global police organisation is based - for China.

The organisation's Senior Vice President Kim Jong-yang has been appointed acting president, an Interpol statement said on Twitter.

She reported her husband missing to French authorities last week and French prosecutors said on Friday they had launched an investigation. Meng has been missing since he travelled to China at the end of September, his wife said.

Grace Meng detailed the chilling final exchange of messages with her husband, Meng Hongwei, to reporters Sunday in the French city of Lyon, where Interpol is based.

The last person in contact with the 64-year-old Meng was his wife, who told reporters prior to China's announcement that she had received a WhatsApp message from him containing nothing but a knife emoji after he had arrived in China, which came several minutes after a message which said,"wait for my call".

"I'm pretty sure they would have expected an extraordinary response from the worldwide community before taking such a decision", Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan said.

The French authorities said his wife had been placed under police protection after receiving threats.

Reports from April said Mr Meng had been relieved of his position as a member of the party committee at the Ministry of Public Security, with no explanation given.

The president of Interpol resigned after being detained by a Chinese anticorruption watchdog, the organization announced Sunday.

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In her first public comments on her husband's mysterious disappearance, Grace Meng said her husband sent her an image of a knife before he went missing.

It was not until almost midnight on Sunday that China finally provided an explanation, releasing a one-sentence statement which said that Meng was under the "monitoring and investigation" of anti-corruption party investigators.

Grace Meng would not speculate on Sunday on what might have happened to him.

Interpol is based in Lyon.

In Lyon, Grace Meng spoke to the news media just before Beijing issued its statement, pleading with national governments to intervene, saying she feared that her husband's life was in danger, Agence France-Presse reported. "For the husband whom I deeply love, for my young children, for the people of my motherland, for all the wives and children's husbands and fathers to no longer disappear".

Mr Xi has been seeking the return of officials and business people accused of fraud and corruption from overseas, sometimes with the help of Interpol in an arrangement human rights advocates say is prone to abuse.

Officials under suspicion often disappear into the party's investigatory body, which can hold them for months without releasing information or providing them with legal counsel.

Although the commission did not detail the allegations against Meng, its mandate is to investigate corruption cases as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign.

"If what Meng is involved in is nothing more than an ordinary corruption case, there would have been no need for the authorities to handle it in such a manner".