Donald Trump says 'terrific' Xi Jinping working to release arrested UCLA players

Aboard Air Force One: President Donald Trump said he personally asked Chinese leader Xi Jinping to intervene on behalf of three US college basketball players arrested in China for alleged shoplifting and expressed hope they would soon be sent home.

Trump told reporters that he brought up the case in talks with Xi during his two-day state visit to Beijing last week. "He was terrific, and they're working on it right now. And hopefully everything is going to work out," Trump told reporters in the Philippines aboard Air Force One at the conclusion of his five-nation tour of Asia.

File image of Donald Trump. AP

File image of Donald Trump. APald T

"But that was not a good subject. That was not something that should have happened," Trump added, calling it a "very, very rough situation with what happened to them," providing no
details.

UCLA players LiAngelo Ball—the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie star Lonzo Ball—and teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were arrested last Tuesday in Hangzhou ahead of their regular-season-opening game against Georgia Tech in nearby Shanghai this past weekend.

ESPN reported that they were nabbed on suspicion of stealing from a Louis Vuitton store and later freed on bail but ordered to remain in Hangzhou. The US sports network, which had a reporter travelling with the teams, quoted sources saying authorities had surveillance footage of the alleged crimes.

"What they did was unfortunate. You know, you're talking about very long prison sentences. They (Chinese authorities) do not play games," Trump said. Shoplifting can bring jail time in China depending on the value of the goods.

But the likelihood of China throwing the book at the trio was probably low with the leaders of the world's two biggest economies keen to make nice for the state visit. Asked whether the players would soon be coming home, Trump said: "I hope so. I hope so."

The UCLA and Georgia Tech squads were in Hangzhou for a side trip to the headquarters of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

UCLA won Saturday's game in Shanghai 63-60 without the three players. The rest of the team flew home afterwards. The Washington Post, quoting unnamed US officials, had reported earlier on Tuesday that Trump learned about the details of the case from aides, including his chief of staff John Kelly.

Xi promised to look into the case and ensure the players are treated fairly and expeditiously, the paper quoted an official saying.

Kelly remains in touch with the player's families and with Chinese authorities, adding that charges against the players had been reduced and the case was proceeding toward a resolution, the paper reported.

The US and Chinese governments have declined to release any information on the players' whereabouts and status, probably due to the diplomatic sensitivities.


Updated Date: Nov 14, 2017 18:09 PM

Also Watch

Watch: Firstpost test rides the new Thunderbird 500X in Goa and walks you through the Royal Enfield Garage Cafe
  • Tuesday, April 17, 2018 Varun Dhawan on Shoojit Sircar's October, 5-star reviews and working with Anushka Sharma in Sui Dhaaga
  • Saturday, April 14, 2018 Ambedkar Jayanti: Re-visiting Babasaheb's ideals exposes fake Dalit politics of Rahul Gandhi and Congress
  • Monday, April 9, 2018 48 hours with Huawei P20 Pro: Triple camera offering is set to redefine smartphone imaging
  • Monday, April 16, 2018 Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore interview: Sports can't be anyone's fiefdom, we need an ecosystem to nurture raw talent

Also See