By: JOHN LEICESTER and GILLIAN WONG,Associated Press
“You listen, but you don’t speak,” the man on the other end said. “We’ve come in two work teams, two work teams just for you.”
In her first one-on-one interview since her husband’s disappearance in China, the wife of the former head of Interpol described the threatening phone call that prompted authorities in the French city where the international law enforcement agency is headquartered to place her under police protection.
French authorities are still trying to determine whether China did indeed, as the mysterious caller menaced, dispatch agents to get to Grace Meng, the wife of Meng Hongwei. But she has good reason to be fearful: Speaking out about the fate of her high-profile husband risks China’s ire and, she said, is putting her “in great danger.”
However, she hopes that doing so will help other families in similar circumstances.
“He has disappeared for so long and nobody has given me any information or told me where he has gone. This is very common now in China,” she told The Associated Press during an interview. “I feel like I have a responsibility to stand up. Only when you’ve been through this much pain can you understand that even more people have been suffering.”
Meng Hongwei — who was China’s vice minister of public security while also leading Interpol — vanished while on a trip to China late last month. A long-time Communist Party insider with decades of experience in China’s sprawling security apparatus, the 64-year-old is the latest high-ranking official to fall victim to a sweeping purge against allegedly corrupt or disloyal officials under President Xi Jinping’s authoritarian administration.
Speaking to the AP late Monday at a hotel in Lyon, the French city where she lives and Interpol is based. Grace Meng said she had put their two boys to bed when she got the threatening call. It was one week after her last contact with her husband. On Sept, 25, he sent her from China an emoji of a knife — suggesting to her he was in danger.
The man who called her on her mobile phone spoke in Chinese, she said. She said the only clue he gave about his identity was saying that he used to work for Meng, suggesting that the man was part of China’s security apparatus. He also said he knew where she was. [FULL STORY]