After Trump's Intervention, 3 US Students Freed from China After Theft Scandal

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November 14, 2017Nov 14, 2017

On Tuesday, reports emerged that three UCLA basketball student-athletes who had been detained in China are now on their way home. The students were held on suspicion of shoplifting. 

The three students from the University of California, Los Angeles, were detained on November 7. According to CNBC, they had been in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou and had been accused of shoplifting.

The accusation was that freshman players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill had shoplifted from a Louis Vuitton store. Last Wednesday, they were released from police custody but were still held in the country at a luxury hotel in Hangzhou. 

Reportedly, President Trump played a significant role in helping the three students return home. He had brought up the incident to Chinese President Xi at a dinner held in Beijing. 

President Trump said that XI's response was "terrific," and that the three players could have faced a long prison sentence. He said that "what they did was unfortunate." A senior White House official attributed the lack of punishment in part to President Trump's help. 

Larry Scott, the Pac-12 Commissioner, made a statement about the three UCLA basketball players. 

He said, "The three UCLA men's basketball student-athletes involved in the incident with authorities in Hangzhou, China are on a flight back home to Los Angeles, and 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," he continued. "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."

He concluded, "Despite this unfortunate incident, it is important to underscore that thanks to our hosts and partners- most notably Alibaba and the Federation University Sports China- the student-athletes from UCLA and Georgia Tech had memorable cultural, educational and athletic experiences that will enrich their lives and provide lifetime memories. That is what our Pac-12 China Game and full week is about. We look forward to next year's game between University of California, Berkeley and Yale, and many more rewarding experiences for our student-athletes."

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