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Wife of China's detained Interpol chief says he might already be dead

She reported him missing to French authorities

(CNN) - The wife of former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, who dramatically vanished into police custody after returning to China in September, told the BBC she isn't sure her husband is still alive.

In an interview with the British broadcaster, Grace Meng said she has received threatening phone calls since the Chinese government announced her husband was in custody in early October.

"I think it is political persecution. I'm not sure he's alive. They are cruel. They are dirty ... They can do anything," she told the interviewer.

Then-President of Interpol Meng Hongwei disappeared after he took a flight back to China in late September. His wife, Grace, said at the time that the last contact she received from him was a text message saying to wait for his call, followed minutes later by a knife emoji.

She reported him missing to French authorities, who opened an investigation. Interpol sent an official inquiry to the Chinese government asking for the whereabouts of their missing president.

On October 8, Beijing's Ministry of Public Security admitted they had detained Meng following his return to China, saying he was being investigated for corruption.

"(Meng) insisted on taking the wrong path and had only himself to blame (for his downfall)," the country's top law enforcement official, Zhao Kezhi, was quoted as saying in the statement.

In a previous interview with CNN earlier in October, Meng said she still hadn't told her children that their father was in custody in China.

"No TV for them ... because they are already seven-years-old, maybe they can feel something has happened. (When) they see Mummy is crying, I told them Mummy has a cold," she said at the time.

Speaking with in silhouette to protect her from being recognized, Grace told CNN she had spoken out to raise awareness of China's extrajudicial detentions. "I do these things ... for all of China's children. For all of China's wives," she said.

No further information has been released by the Chinese government, and Meng has not been seen in public since he left France for China in September.

Shortly after Beijing announced Meng's arrest, Interpol said it had received and accepted his resignation with "immediate effect." It made no mention of the former president's whereabouts or the Chinese investigation.

Meng was the first Chinese official to lead the international policing body and his appointment just two years ago in 2016 was greeted enthusiastically by the country's state media.

As President, Meng oversaw the agency's executive committee, which sets overall strategy.


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