Grace Meng has remained in France since her husband Meng Hongwei disappeared in September.

    The wife of former Chinese Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, being held in his home country on corruption charges, has applied for asylum in France, her lawyer said.

    Grace Meng has remained in the French city of Lyon, the place of Interpol’s headquarters, since her husband disappeared while visiting China in September. It was later revealed that he has been arrested.

    She told Franceinfo radio and the Liberation newspaper that she fears for her life and that of their twin sons, despite being under French police protection.

    “I need the French government to protect me, to assist me, to help me and my children,” she said. “I am afraid of being kidnapped.”

    Her lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny told Reuters news agency she had recently applied for asylum after being under police protection soon after her husband disappeared.

    French authorities declined to comment to Reuters.

    A former vice minister for public security in China who rose through the ranks of the country’s feared security apparatus, Meng was the first Chinese head of the international police organisation.

    He was last heard from on September 25 as he left Lyon for China, when he sent his wife a social media message telling her to “wait for my call” and then a knife emoji signifying danger.

    In the interview to Franceinfo and Liberation, given on January 10, his wife said that she had received no news of her husband or of her family back home, and that her Chinese phone and internet accounts had been blocked.

    She had also received “strange phone calls”, she said, and was once followed into a hotel by a Chinese couple who attempted to gather information about her.

    China’s public security bureau has linked Meng’s detention to a broader initiative to “completely remove the pernicious influence” of Zhou Yongkang, a former security tsar who was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 for bribery, abuse of power and leaking state secrets.

    Meng was appointed the vice minister of security by Zhou in 2004.

    China has said it protects the legitimate rights of all citizens, no matter what situation they find themselves in, and has offered to facilitate a call between Meng and his wife.

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