WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department pledged Thursday to intervene on behalf of the three UCLA basketball players arrested in China on shoplifting charges.
“We are aware of reports of three U.S. citizens arrested and subsequently released on bail in China,” a State Department spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We stand ready to provide appropriate consular assistance for U.S. citizens.”
The spokesperson said the department would have no further comment because of privacy considerations.
The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comments on the arrests of LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill on charges of stealing pricey sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou, a city in eastern China.
The players had been released on bail after their arrests, the day before President Donald Trump’s arrival in China, but Chinese police later ordered them to stay in their hotel, .
Neither Ball, the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers star point guard Lonzo Ball, nor his two Bruins teammates returned messages for them left Thursday at the luxury Hangzhou Hyatt Regency, where they remained as the rest of the team moved on to Shanghai for a game.
The Chinese government said only that it had reported the arrest to U.S. officials, declining further comment.
LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo Ball — in China with his wife, Tina, and their youngest son, LaMelo — released a statement saying of the incident: “It is a very unfortunate situation that the Ball family and UCLA has to deal with at this particular time.”