France has received the resignation of Meng Hongwei as president of Interpol with immediate effect, according to the international police agency.
The development came on Sunday shortly after China said Meng, who went missing 12 days ago, was under investigation for unspecified violations of Chinese law.
The National Supervisory Commission, which handles corruption cases involving public servants, said in a statement that Meng “is currently under investigation on suspicion of violating the law.”
Earlier on Sunday, Meng Hongwei’s wife, Grace, said her husband sent her an image of a knife before he disappeared during a trip to their native China.
Making her first public comments on the issue, Grace Meng told reporters in Lyon, France, that she thought the knife was her husband’s way of trying to tell her he was in danger.
She said she has had no further contact with him since the message that was sent on September 25. Grace also said four minutes before Meng shared the image, he had sent a message saying: “Wait for my call.”
|Grace Meng told journalists that she thought the knife emoji meant her husband was in danger [Jeff Pachoud/AFP]
Grace Meng would not speculate on Sunday on what might have happened to him.
Asked if she believed that he has been arrested, she said: “In China, what happened, I’m not sure.”
She read a statement during her press conference in Lyon, but would not allow reporters to show her face, saying she feared for her own safety and the safety of her two children.
Meng is a senior Chinese security official as well as president of the International Criminal Police Organisation.
The Lyon-based international police agency said on Saturday it has used law enforcement channels to inquire with China about Meng’s status.
|Grace Meng would not allow her face to be shown over fears for her safety [Jeff Pachoud/AFP]
His disappearance was made public on Friday, when French authorities said they were opening an investigation to find out what happened to Meng, a Chinese national who served a lengthy term as the vice minister for public security.
According to a report by the South China Morning Post newspaper, Meng was taken in for questioning by Chinese authorities. The paper, which based its reporting on an unnamed source, said the reason for Meng’s questioning was unknown.
Meng’s disappearance was originally reported by his wife, who told French police in the city of Lyon she had not heard from him since he traveled to China.
|Meng served a lengthy term as China’s vice minister for public security [File: Xinhua via AP]
According to Interpol’s website, Meng has nearly 40 years of experience in criminal justice and policing, and has overseen matters related to legal institutions, narcotics control and counter-terrorism.
Following the appointment, critics suggested that Meng’s appointment gave Beijing a chance to enlist more international help in tracking down alleged economic criminals, including corrupt officials, targeted by President Xi Jinping‘s anti-corruption campaign.
But Interpol has, in the past, denied this, saying its head does not intervene in day-to-day operations, which are handled by Secretary-General Juergen Stock who is German.