Chinese Anti-Corruption Crusader Vanishes on Mysterious Leave


Wang Lijun, deputy mayor of Chongqing, an anti-corruption crusader placed on leave, after rumors that he had tried to defect. / REUTERS
A Chinese official who’s been venerated by the government as an “anti-corruption iron hero” has now been placed on mysterious “stress” leave following rumors that he may have tried to defect.

“A key deputy to Bo Xilai, the Chongqing Communist party secretary who has been tipped for a top position in China’s upcoming political transition, has been put on leave, the Chongqing government said Wednesday, prompting speculation of internal dissent among the top ranks of the southwestern city’s leadership,” TIME reports.

The government said Wang was “undergoing ‘vacation-style treatment’ due to his heavy workload and stress.” That announcement, TIME reports, came “hours after Chinese police surrounded the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, a city about 200 miles from Chongqing, which touched off widespread rumors on Chinese microblogs that Wang had sought asylum.”

The U.S. embassy is so far staying tight-lipped, not commenting on the asylum claims.

During a career that spanned nearly three decades, Wang achieved almost folk-hero status for fighting crime and corruption, and he allegedly has “more than 20 scars on his body from run-ins with criminals.”

Sweep to China: A top corruption fighter takes mysterious “stress” leave

A new report by the European Commission points to shortcomings in Bulgaria when it comes to the country’s judicial system and other efforts to root out corruption.

As the Sofia Echo reports, the EC is calling for “strong action” in several areas, including an overhaul of the judicial election process to improve “transparency and integrity and as an important step towards a fundamental reform of the judicial system.” Also, a new law related to asset forfeiture “should be comprehensive and backed up by strong institutions.”

“The track record of decisions and penalties in cases related to high-level corruption, fraud and organised crime under investigation and in court should demonstrate the convincing results needed to provide effective dissuasion,” the EC report said.

The report is part of a verification process put in place by the European Union when Bulgaria joined in 2007, to ensure the country can meet EU standards.

Sweep to Stronger action needed by Bulgaria 

A file photo of Egypt's former president, Hosni Mubarak, and his wife Suzanne in 2003. / REUTERS

Did the wife of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak attempt suicide when she was on the verge of being arrested on corruption charges after the revolution?

In a new memoir by Suzanne Mubarak being put out soon by Scottish publisher Canongate Books, the former first lady allegedly confesses to a suicide attempt, according to a report by Egyptian broadcast news outlet EGYnews, which obtained the memoir.

She describes May 13, 2011 as her “darkest” day, and writes that when a high-ranking Egyptian corruption official brought an order for her arrest, “I took an overdose of sleeping pills and wanted to commit suicide as I could not imagine what for and how to live.”

She recounts being saved, and then finally being released from detention after Mubarak’s lawyer Farid al-Dib brokered a deal that involved the former first lady signing away all of her property to the government. She was released on May 17.

The memoir, according to EGYnews, also contains some interesting insights into the revolution as a whole – including Suzanne Mubarak’s claim that she and her husband had been offered asylum before he resigned under pressure.

“USA, Saudi Arabia, United Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait offered husband and all family members political asylum at the beginning of February 2011. But when he resigned on February 11, these offers were immediately called off,” she says.

Sweep to Mubarak’s wife attempted suicide over corruption charges

Aaron Kessler

Aaron Kessler

Aaron Kessler is an award-winning journalist who for nearly a decade has investigated a wide range of subjects from financial crimes by corporations and individuals, to politics and government abuses at the local, state and federal levels, to terrorist financing networks.