Wife of Former Interpol Chief Seeks Asylum in France

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PARIS — Nearly four months after an Interpol chief was detained in China on corruption charges, his wife has applied for asylum in France, she said on Saturday.Grace Meng, wife of Meng Hongwei, the former Interpol president, has remained in France, where the organization has its headquarters, since his arrest.“I have officially claimed asylum in France,” Ms. Meng said in a text message on Saturday.Ms. Meng, who has refused to specify her Chinese given name or to have her face photographed or filmed by the news media, said in interviews on Friday that she was seeking French protection for her and her twin boys.“I cannot go back to China; such strange things happen there, and fundamental rights are not respected,” she told the newspaper Libération. “Even here, I am afraid of being kidnapped, and I fear for the safety of my children.”The Chinese authorities have not specified the charges against Mr. Meng, who was also a vice minister in the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, and it is unclear where he is being held.His abrupt detention in the fall, accompanied by the news that he had resigned from Interpol with immediate effect, has cast a cloud over China’s push for a more prominent role in global affairs by taking up more leadership roles in international bodies.Ms. Meng was put under French police protection shortly after her husband’s arrest.In the interviews published on Friday, Ms. Meng said that she had not had any contact with her husband or with any friends or relatives in China since the arrest, and that her Chinese phone and email had been blocked. She said that strangers had followed her, had tried to get her to travel with them and that she had received threatening phone calls.“I need the French government to protect me, to assist me, to help me, me and my children,” Ms. Meng told Radio France in an off-air interview on Friday.Both Libération and Radio France reported that Ms. Meng was supposed to go to the French asylum agency headquarters in Paris on Friday to file an official request. The agency was not immediately reachable for comment on Saturday, and it was not clear whether Ms. Meng had sufficient grounds to claim asylum.In November, Interpol elected a South Korean police veteran as its next president to replace Mr. Meng, who was halfway through his four-year term when he was detained.Interpol, which functions as a sort of clearinghouse for the circulation of arrest warrants, tips and data, does not have direct policing powers of its own. Its presidency is a largely ceremonial role that entails chairing meetings and representing the institution at official events; a secretary general runs the police organization on a day-to-day basis.Jürgen Stock, the current secretary general, has said repeatedly that Interpol does not have a say in a state’s internal affairs and was not in a position to prevent the arrest of Mr. Meng.Ms. Meng has denied that her husband is guilty of corruption.“We don’t have any secret accounts abroad, no hidden money,” she told Libération. “I think that my husband was arrested for a political reason.”