Three UCLA Basketball Players Leave China After Being Detained

Trump spoke to Chinese president about the matter

BY:

Three UCLA basketball players flew back to the United States on Tuesday after they were detained by Chinese police in the eastern city of Hangzhou as suspects in an investigation of shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton boutique.

UCLA freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill, and Cody Riley were seen at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport late Tuesday checking into a Delta flight bound for Los Angeles, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Their departure comes after President Donald Trump spoke with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, about the three players and requested his assistance in the matter.

Trump told reporters that he and Xi had a "great conversation" about the players and characterized the Chinese president's handling of the situation as "terrific," the Journal reported.

Ending his trip to Asia on Tuesday, Mr. Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that in recent days he asked the Chinese president for help. Mr. Trump called the incident "unfortunate" but said he had had "a great conversation" about the players with China's leader. "President Xi has been terrific on that subject," he said.

Trump also noted the severe punishment the young men could have faced.

"You know, you're talking about very long prison sentences. They do not play games," Trump said, apparently referring to Chinese judicial officials.

The UCLA basketball team was in China as a guest of the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. as part of a marketing campaign that included a U.S. college basketball game.

After being detained by Chinese authorities, the three basketball players were returned to the team's hotel and allowed to stay on a VIP floor of the Hyatt Regency Hangzhou until the situation was resolved. Chinese officials have yet to release what evidence they have that the three players were involved in the shoplifting.

The rest of the UCLA basketball team returned to the United States on Saturday.

Andrew Kugle   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Andrew Kugle is the assistant social media editor for the Washington Free Beacon. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2013. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, he worked as a Staff/Press Assistant for South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem. Andrew is from De Pere, Wisconsin and lives in D.C. His Twitter handle is @AndrewJKugle. You can reach him at kugle@freebeacon.com.

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