Arrested US basketball players arrive home from China after Trump intervenes

UCLA NCAA college basketball players, Liangelo Ball, left, and Cody Riley are shown in these file photos. (AP)
Updated 15 November 2017
0

Arrested US basketball players arrive home from China after Trump intervenes

LOS ANGELES: Three American college basketball players arrested in China for shoplifting are back home in Los Angeles after US President Donald Trump intervened on their behalf.
UCLA freshmen players LiAngelo Ball — the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie star Lonzo Ball — and teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill arrived on a flight from Shanghai to Los Angeles and exited the airport from the departures level, avoiding reporters awaiting the plane, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Larry Scott, commissioner of the Pacific-12 Conference of which UCLA is a member, said in a statement the players were on the flight and the trio were allowed to leave Hangzhou, where they were detained a week ago.
“The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities,” Scott said. “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 thanked Trump, the White House and the State Department for their assistance in resolving the case.
Trump said he personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to intervene on behalf of the three players during his two-day state visit to Beijing last week.
“What they did was unfortunate,” Trump said. “You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. They (the Chinese authorities) do not play games.”
Ball, Riley and Hill were arrested in Hangzhou ahead of a scheduled game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai.
According to ESPN, they were nabbed on suspicion of stealing from a Louis Vuitton store and later freed on bail but ordered to remain in Hangzhou.
The UCLA and Georgia Tech squads were in Hangzhou for a side trip to the headquarters of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Shoplifting can bring jail time in China depending on the value of the goods.
UCLA, one of the most storied names in US college basketball with 11 men’s NCAA championships, won Saturday’s game in Shanghai 63-60 without the three players. The rest of the team flew home afterwards.
Besides coinciding with Trump’s visit, the case drew attention in the United States due to the involvement of Ball, one of three high-profile basketball-playing sons of LaVar Ball.
The elder Ball has become a media personality by aggressively promoting his sons as future NBA superstars and had traveled to China on the trip to promote his Big Baller Brand shoe and apparel line.


Nations defend UN Human Rights Council after US pullout

Empty seats of the United States delegation are pictured one day after the US announced their withdraw during a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 June 2018
0

Nations defend UN Human Rights Council after US pullout

  • Russia’s Foreign Ministry had earlier accused the US of “gross cynicism” and “disregard” for the UN
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US withdrawal

GENEVA: Diplomats from across the globe defended the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday after the US withdrew from a body it branded an anti-Israel “cesspool.”
Slovenian ambassador Vojislav Suc, who currently holds the council’s rotating presidency and has been pushing a faltering reform drive, described the Geneva-based chamber as the best place to trigger action on dangerous rights crises.
“Let me say it very clearly, if human rights issues are not discussed here, in this very room, they have little chance to be dealt with meaningfully anywhere else,” he told the council’s 38th session, hours after Washington announced its pullout.
Suc further praised the 47-member council as the “only intergovernmental body responding to human rights issues and situations worldwide.”
Once he receives formal notification of the US withdrawal, Suc said he would arrange for the American seat to be removed and work with the General Assembly to elect a replacement member. China, which has on multiple occasions voiced support for multilateral institutions abandoned by US President Donald Trump, portrayed the council as “a major body... to promote the realization of human rights.”
“All delegations attach great importance to this body,” said Chinese ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Yu Jianhua.
China currently sits on the council and rights groups have repeatedly criticized Beijing for seeking to stifle criticism of its own conduct.
The EU assured that it “remains steadfastly and reliably committed to the Human Rights Council,” and said it would continue to try to fix the body’s problems despite the US withdrawal.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry had earlier accused the US of “gross cynicism” and “disregard” for the UN.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UN ambassador Nikki Haley announced the decision on Wednesday, making good on a threat Haley made in Geneva a year ago.
They said their calls for change, notably to fix “hypocrisy” and “unrelenting bias” against Israel were ignored.
Membership of the council, established in 2006 to replace the disgraced Human Rights Commission, has long been controversial.
Current members include Burundi, the Philippines and Venezuela — all nations accused of massive abuses against civilians.
But the main US objection was the council’s Agenda Item 7, which mandates discussion of Israel at each of the three annual sessions.
Israel is the only country recorded as a dedicated agenda item.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US withdrawal, experts and diplomats have noted that without US pushback, resolutions approving investigations of Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Palestinian Territories could multiply.