Trump says he should have left players in jail

This article is more than 12 months old

WASHINGTON: United States President Donald Trump on Sunday upbraided the father of one of three University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) basketball players who were detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting after he questioned Mr Trump's role in their release.

Mr Trump tweeted: "Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!"

The three players apologised last week and thanked Mr Trump for helping to secure their release by raising the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit.

But Mr LaVar Ball on Saturday downplayed Mr Trump's involvement in the release.

"Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out," he said on TV network ESPN.

Mr Trump, while finishing up a 12-day trip to Asia, said he had sought the help of Mr Xi in the case.

The three players - LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill - had admitted to stealing items from three stores during a team trip to China.

Before they thanked Mr Trump, Mr Trump had wondered whether they would express gratitude to him.

Mr Trump had tweeted: "Do you think the three UCLA basketball players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!" - REUTERS

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