Mother of American Athlete Jailed in China Seeks Trump’s Help

November 30, 2017 Updated: November 30, 2017

The mother of a man who went to China to help build a football team is seeking presidential help to get her son out of a Chinese prison.

Wendell Brown, a native of Detroit, Michigan, was arrested in September of last year after an altercation at a bar in Chongqing, southwest China.

He was there to celebrate a friend’s birthday when some locals asked to take a picture with him and offered him a drink. After he refused, they started to attack him, according to his mother, Antoinette Brown, in an interview with WXYZ.

Brown’s lawyer, Wu Jun Mei, told Michigan Radio that she wouldn’t be able to call witnesses in Brown’s defense without the prosecutor’s approval. If found guilty, Brown faces three to 10 years in prison.

At one point, authorities said that a $100,000 restitution fee drop the charges against Brown, but that offer was later rescinded, Fox News reports. Even after Brown’s trial took place in July 2016, the judge issued no verdict or sentence.

“If Trump helps us, if he helps Wendell, I won’t stop thanking him. He helped get three basketball players who were guilty get out. I pray he’ll help get my innocent son out. And if he does, I’ll thank him and thank him and thank him,” said Antoinette, via Yahoo Sports.

Three UCLA basketball players received the gift of freedom when President Trump helped them get out of a potentially lengthy sentence in a Chinese prison. They were accused of shoplifting earlier in November, and detained in China for a week.

Fortunately for them, President Trump was in China as part of an Asia trip, and was able to get the players back to the United States safely.

LaVar Ball, the famous father of one of the players, decided to publicly not thank Trump, even after his son and the other two players thanked him. In a bizarre CNN interview, he said he would only thank Trump if he flew his son back on Air Force One.

“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!” Trump tweeted.

Brown’s mother is worried that Trump’s experience with Ball will influence his decision on whether or not to get involved in her own son’s case.

Unlike Ball, Antoinette Brown and her husband do not have the funds to go to China, and are worried that if they do, they could also be arrested.

Antoinette’s only contact with Wendell comes from letters that U.S. consular officials who visit the prison each month bring back, according to Fox News. There is little that the U.S. embassy or senators from Michigan watching the case can do.

“The main way we try do that is by talking with the Chinese authorities, and by making sure that they take Mr. Brown and any other arrested American citizens’ cases seriously,” Elliot Fertik, the East-Asia Pacific Division chief of the State Department, told Michigan Radio. “We do monitor cases involving American citizens who were arrested abroad to make sure that they receive fair treatment from the authorities as best we can.”

“The main way we try and do that is by talking with the Chinese authorities, and by making sure that they take Mr. Brown and any other arrested Americans’ case seriously,” he added.

Brown played and coached football in Europe, Canada, and the United States before finding himself in China, where he played then became a coach. He supplemented his football activities with teaching English and fitness training.

Before his arrest, Brown coached the Chongqing Dockers of the American Football League of China. He was offered a fitness trainer job after a gym manager saw his willingness to offer his knowledge to others, according to an interview he did for Youtube channel Black in China.

At least till the interview, published in April 2016, he had a positive impression of China.

“That’s the great thing about having a group of guys who really care for you and who really want to see you succeed, and also help the team succeed,” Brown said in the interview. “Just the people in itself, they are very welcoming, especially the guys who I coach. They do a great job of just making me feel at home, and wanting me to get out and see more and travel and just wanting me to come along with them and inviting me out to eat and everything like that.”

During Brown’s trial, over 100 letters of support were presented to the court from his friends and colleagues, Antoinette Brown told Michigan Radio.


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