President Donald Trump wondered on Twitter Wednesday whether the UCLA freshman basketball players who he helped free from detention in China would thank him, saying "they were headed for 10 years in jail!"
LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill returned to Los Angeles on Tuesday after being accused of shoplifting last week in China. They had been arrested on suspicion of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store near their team's hotel in the eastern city of Hangzhou.
The players faced a sentence of three to 10 years in prison if convicted of grand larceny, according to CNN.
While on his recent Asia trip, Trump said he asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to look into the matter.
"Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail," Trump wrote.
Trump told reporters the players' actions were "unfortunate" and said Xi had been "terrific on that subject," adding "that was not something that should have happened."
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement that "the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities. We are all very pleased that these young men have been allowed to return home to their families and university."
"We are grateful for the role that our Chinese hosts played, and for the courtesy and professionalism of the local authorities," Scott said. "We also want to acknowledge UCLA's significant efforts on behalf of their student-athletes. Finally, we want to thank the president, the White House, and the U.S. State Department for their efforts towards resolution."
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.
Ball, Riley, and Hill will likely face discipline from the school for their actions.