In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Grace Meng denied bribery allegations against Meng Hongwei and said that speaking out about his disappearance was placing her “in great danger”.
Meng – who is also China’s vice minister of public security – disappeared while on a trip home to China late last month.
Speaking to the AP late on Monday, Grace Meng said her last contact with her husband was by text message, on September 25, when he wrote “wait for my call” and sent her an emoji image of a knife after travelling back to China.
After a week with no subsequent news, one evening while she was at home in Lyon having put their two young boys to bed, she then got a threatening call on her mobile phone from a man speaking in Chinese.
“He said, ‘You listen but you don’t speak’,” she said. He continued: “We’ve come in two work teams, two work teams just for you.”
She said the man also said, “We know where you are,” and that when she tried to ask a question, he repeated: “You don’t speak, you just listen to me.”
As a result, Grace Meng is now under French police protection.
Chinese authorities said on Monday that Meng Hongwei was being investigated for taking bribes and other crimes that were a result of his “willfulness”.
Hours earlier, Interpol said Meng had resigned as the international police agency’s president. It was not clear whether he did so of his own free will.
Grace Meng suggested that the bribery accusation is just an excuse for “making him disappear for so long”.
“As his wife, I think he’s simply incapable of this,” she said. She said she would be willing to make their bank accounts public.
She said that she spoke out in hopes that doing so might help other families in similar circumstances.
Grace Meng refused to provide her real name to the AP, saying she was too afraid for the safety of her relatives in China. It is not customary for Chinese wives to adopt their husbands’ names.
She said she has done so now to show her solidarity with her husband. Her English name, Grace, is one she has long used, she said.
A French judicial official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to AP that police are investigating the threat against Grace Meng, but said the probe has yet to determine whether there were indeed Chinese teams sent to Lyon.