Diplomats meet Frenchman in Beijing for Bo probe

The French architect being questioned in Beijing in an investigation linked to former Communist leader Bo Xilai has met with French diplomats and is in "good shape", an embassy spokesman said.

Patrick Devillers met consular officials at the weekend after flying to China from Cambodia, where he had been detained at the request of the Chinese government, said the embassy spokesman, who asked not to be named.

"Our embassy colleagues were able to meet Mr. Devillers at the weekend. He appeared to be in good shape," he said on Monday.

France's foreign ministry said earlier it had asked for access to the 52-year-old architect, who left Cambodia a week ago after agreeing to go to Beijing to assist in the enquiry.

Devillers, 52, is understood to have been a close business associate and friend of Bo and his wife Gu Kailai, key figures in China's biggest political scandal in decades, although his exact role is unclear.

He is believed to have first crossed paths with Bo and Gu in the 1990s, when Bo hired him to do some architectural work in the Chinese city of Dalian.

He was detained in Phnom Penh, where he had been living, on June 13 at Beijing's request and boarded a flight to China after he was released by Cambodian authorities.

Cambodian officials and the French foreign ministry have stressed it was Devillers' own choice to help Beijing with its investigation. China has so far made no comment on his detention in Cambodia or his arrival in Beijing.

The French foreign ministry has said that as far as it is aware, he is not being detained.

Bo, one of the best-known leaders of China's Communist party, had been expected to join the Politburo standing committee -- an elite group of politicians who effectively rule China -- before his spectacular fall from grace this year.

The former head of the southwestern Chinese megacity of Chongqing has not been seen since March, when authorities announced he was being investigated for corruption.

His wife Gu, a former lawyer of international standing, has been detained for suspected involvement in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood last year.

Analysts say the scandal, which first came to light in February, has exposed deep divisions within the Chinese Communist Party ahead of a crucial, once-in-a-decade leadership transition due to take place in the autumn.

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