Interpol: Rules forbid probe of ex-president’s fate in China

Secretary General of Interpol Jurgen Stock poses for a photograph at the Interpol headquarters in the southern French city of Lyon on November 8, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2018
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Interpol: Rules forbid probe of ex-president’s fate in China

  • Chinese authorities said they detained Meng, 64, on bribery charges, though his wife has described him as a victim of political persecution

LYON, France: Interpol’s secretary general said Thursday that the international police organization’s rules forbid him from probing into the fate of the Chinese government official who served as Interpol president for almost two years before he vanished during a trip to China.
In his first public remarks about the disappearance of Meng Hongwei, Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock said he “encouraged” Chinese authorities to provide information about Meng’s location and legal status but can do no more.
Stock spoke to journalists as Interpol member prepare to elect a new president to replace Meng during a general assembly in Dubai on Nov. 18-21. Meng became the organization’s president in November 2016.
Chinese authorities said they detained Meng, 64, on bribery charges, though his wife has described him as a victim of political persecution. He was China’s vice minister of public security and appears to be the latest ranking Chinese official to have been caught in a sweeping purge under President Xi Jinping.
Stock said his organization learned of Meng’s disappearance on Oct. 5 via media reports that came out after Meng’s wife said she had not heard from him since the end of September and reported him missing.
Interpol contacted Beijing, asking for clarification, according to Stock. A high-level Chinese delegation arrived at Interpol’s Lyon headquarters on Oct. 7, reported that Meng had written a resignation letter and advised that he was no longer a delegate from China to Interpol — meaning he could no longer serve as president.
China’s Interpol office transmitted the resignation letter to Interpol headquarters later that day. Pressed on whether Interpol had assurances Meng actually wrote it or did so without duress, Stock hedged.
“There was no reason for me to (suspect) that anything was forced or wrong,” he said.
Interpol appeared to accept the Chinese delegation’s explanation at face value and publicly announced that night that Meng had stepped down, without commenting on why or what happened.
Stock cited the structure and nature of the 192-member organization, which provides a platform for member nations to share information on criminal activities, and the vast needs it fulfills in trying to contain ballooning transnational crime. Interpol databases are queried 200 times each second by police around the world, he said.
“We are a rules-based organization. That is very important to understand,” Stock said, adding that the role of Interpol is “not to govern over member states.”
“We are not an investigative body,” he said.
Stock said he is in “constant” contact with the national central bureau in Beijing that serves as Interpol’s point of contact in China. As secretary general, Stock manages Interpol’s day-to-day activities, while the agency’s elected president has a less hands-on, more symbolic role.
“We are strongly encouraging China” to come forth with details of Meng’s case, Stock said. He suggested Chinese officials would “when the right moment comes.”
Meng’s wife, Grace Meng, told The Associated Press last month that she received threats after her husband disappeared. She and their two children are under police protection in Lyon.
“There is no doubt this is a very regrettable situation,” Stock said. “But on the other hand, we have to ensure day-to-day operations ... continue.”
He also conceded that Interpol must “mitigate negative impact” springing from Meng’s disappearance.
Interpol acts as a clearinghouse for national police services that want to hunt down suspects outside their borders. Governments have repeatedly tried to use Interpol to find political enemies, even though its charter explicitly proclaims its neutrality and prohibits use of police notices for political reasons.
Stock said that ensuring the notices are not misused has been one of his priorities.


North Korean missile test violated UN resolution, says Bolton

Updated 47 min 58 sec ago
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North Korean missile test violated UN resolution, says Bolton

  • Trump has left “door open” for North Korea’s Kim
  • Washington has “deep and serious” intelligence on Iran threat

TOKYO: US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Saturday North Korea’s recent missile launches violated a UN Security Council resolution and urged leader Kim Jong Un to return to denuclearization talks.
It was the first time a senior US official has described the tests as a violation of UN resolutions aimed at halting North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and came ahead of a four-day visit to Japan by US President Donald Trump who arrives later in the day.
“The UN resolution prohibits the launch of any ballistic missiles,” Bolton said at a press roundtable. North Korea’s test firings included short range ballistic missiles and so there was “no doubt” it was a violation, he added.
Earlier this month, Kim Jong Un oversaw the first flight of a previously untested weapon — a relatively small, fast missile experts believe will be easier to hide, launch and maneuver in flight.
Bolton said that the United States was still open to talks with Kim’s regime but that it had not changed its position from the one outlined at the last summit between the United States and North Korea in Hanoi.
“Trump has held the door open for Kim, the next step is for Kim to walk through it,” he said.
Bolton also urged Kim to agree to a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which he said could help restart dialogue on North Korea’s weapons programs.
An Abe Kim summit “could be substantive assistance to that,” he said.
Trump, who will play golf with Abe on Sunday before watching Sumo wrestling, is expected to discuss topics ranging from North Korea to China and two-way trade when they sit down for a summit on Monday.
The two leaders will also discuss rising tensions with Iran, Bolton said. Abe is considering a visit to Iran as early as mid-June, public broadcaster NHK said on Friday, the first such trip in four decades.
Washington has said it will stop waivers for countries buying Iranian oil and has designated Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.
The United State is also deploying a carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle East in response to what the Trump administration described as troubling “indications and warnings” from Iran.
Bolton, who has spearheaded an increasingly hawkish US policy on Iran, described recent attacks on tankers off the United Arab Emirates and a pipeline pumping station in Saudi Arabia, as well as a rocket attack in Baghdad’s Green Zone in Iraq, as “manifestations of concern.”
The United States has “deep and serious” intelligence on the threat posed by Iran, said Bolton, who declined to provide details.