Trump says that players fleeing UCLA faced 10 years in prison. That is wrong.


In recent days, a happy story has descended to farce.

It all started earlier this month, when three basketball players from UCLA were arrested in China, where their team had to play an exhibition game. The trio had stolen sunglbades from three Louis Vuitton stores in Hangzhou, China.

In the following days, players were held in their hotel room.

Then, President Trump came to China as part of a 12-day period. Travel to Asia He was informed about the difficult situation of the players by his staff, who found out on CNN. According to the Trump report, he asked Chinese President Xi Jinping if he knew anything about the "bigheads" that were being held in Hangzhou. Xi did not, but he sent an badistant to gather more information.

Soon after, the players were charged with misdemeanors, released from their hotel and returned to California. Trump's chief of staff, John F. Kelly, told the New York Times that they were released thanks to the intervention of Trump and the State Department.

Trump took to Twitter to demand praise for his efforts. At a press conference in the United States, the players thanked him and thanked him for his help. The president has been singing about his role on Twitter, saying that he protected players from five to 10 years in prison. But after the father of one of the players said he was not grateful, Trump wrote on Twitter that he should have left them in jail.

Shoplifting is a big problem in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to Father LaVar . I should have taken his son out during my next trip to China. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!

– Donald J. Trump (@ realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017

Trump is right that China's criminal justice system has a very high conviction rate and that punishment for theft varies widely , from a couple of days to 10 years in prison.

But experts say that basketball players almost certainly would have escaped from China without having to go to jail. When foreigners commit minor offenses, Chinese officials are more likely to deport them instead of imprisoning them. It's just not worth the diplomatic headache. "It does not make sense," Fu Hualing, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, told the New York Times about Trump's claim that he was solely responsible for releasing the athletes. "I would be surprised if they were even prosecuted."

[UCLA players head home from China after arrest on shoplifting charges]

Jerome Cohen, Asia expert and director of the faculty of the US Law Institute. UU From New York University, USA Today said it is "extremely unlikely" that players have been sentenced to time in jail. From the beginning, the players received bail, a sign that Chinese officials were not going to press for a full sentence.

Donald Clarke, a law professor at George Washington University, echoed that badessment, saying that players probably did not face severe punishment "Based on what I know, I think the most likely outcome is that Players are sent home with a severe warning, but without serving a formal detention sentence, "Clarke wrote to USA Today in an email before the players' release. . "They are already confined to their hotel, maybe the authorities will count that as a kind of time served."

In fact, at the beginning of the players' detention, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that they would most likely receive administrative punishment, meaning they would face 20 days of house arrest and be barred from visiting China again.

Meanwhile, activists are wondering why Trump did not use his influence to advocate for the release of some of China's political prisoners, such as Liu Xia, an artist, photographer and the widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo . She is detained unofficially away from her family and friends, punished simply for being Liu's wife.

Activists also highlighted the plight of Ilham Tohti, an advocate for the Uyghurs of China, a Muslim ethnic minority that has long faced oppression. Tohti was imprisoned in 2014 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Wang Quanzhang, a human rights lawyer, was arrested in 2015 as part of an energetic campaign against human rights activists. No one has been allowed to visit him, and his wife says he does not even know if he is alive.

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