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Meng's wife, who lives in Lyon, where the worldwide police organization has its headquarters, contacted the police after not hearing from her husband since he traveled to China in late September. Interpol acknowledged the reports about Meng, and said in an email that it "is a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China". The statement also added that the secretary general, and not the president, is responsible for the global police agency's daily operations.

Meng is listed on the website of China's Ministry of Public Security as a vice-minister, but lost his seat on its key Communist Party Committee in April, the South China Morning Post reported.

FILE - In this July 4, 2017 file photo, Interpol President, Meng Hongwei, walks toward the stage to deliver his opening address at the Interpol World congress in Singapore.

Mr Meng's wife alerted the French authorities, leading to the opening of the probe, Europe 1 said, without specifying how it had obtained the information. But then, nothing. His wife, who put out a call on Friday, said she hasn't heard from her 64-year-old husband since the end of September, the official said.

The newspaper said that upon landing a week ago, Meng was "taken away" for questioning by what it said were "discipline authorities".

Hongwei's disappearance was reported by his wife, who lives in Leon, where the Interpol headquarters are located.

Beijing has in the past pressed other countries to arrest and deport back to China citizens it accuses of crimes including corruption and terrorism.

China has not commented officially on Meng's disappearance and there was no mention of him in official media on Saturday.

The first Chinese leader of Interpol, which connects the law enforcement agencies of its 192 member countries, Meng was elected the organisation's head in November 2016.

At the time, Amnesty International called Meng's appointment "at odds with Interpol's mandate to work in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights".