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Updated Jun 2, 2014 - 4:35 pm

Arizona congressman: Marine abused in Mexican jail

This May 3, 2014, photo shows Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi left, who is being held at Tijuana's La Mesa Penitentiary. The 25-year-old Marine Corps combat veteran is being held on weapons charges for mistakenly crossing the border with a shotgun, handgun and rifle in his vehicle. If Tahmooressi is convicted, he faces six to 21 years in a Mexican prison, his lawyers said, adding that alternatively the case could be dropped if the Mexican Attorney General's Office in Mexico City requests dismissal. (AP Photo/U-T San Diego, Alejandro Tamayo)

PHOENIX -- After more than two months, a U.S. Marine in custody in Mexico received his first visit in prison with a congressional leader working to free him on Saturday.

U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) met with prison officials and Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi in Tecate, Mexico to see his condition and discuss his case and upcoming hearings.

Tahmooressi has been in prison since April 1 when he allegedly made a wrong turn in San Diego and crossed the Mexican border, where was found with three guns in his car.

Salmon said he was offended by the conditions with which Tahmooressi had been treated after being arrested.

"When they apprehended him they beat him and then they four-pointed him on a bed, I think he was four-pointed for close to 30 days," Salmon said. "That's just not appropriate and not humane."

Salmon said Tahmooressi even tried to escape custody shortly after his arrest.

Tahmooressi has since been moved to a second prison where Salmon said he has received much better treatment.

"It's a state-of-the-art prison -- in fact I made the comment to my staff person that was with me -- that I felt that that prison is probably nicer than most of the America prisons I've been in," he said. "It's very clean, it's only a year old (and) they have him in a room by himself."

Salmon said Tahmooressi appears to be in good spirits and said he's being accommodated appropriately.

Salmon's only concern at the moment is that Tahmooressi has not been able to meet with a psychiatrist to help manage his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"He (Tahmooressi) had seen a psychologist, but I mentioned to them that I don't think that's adequate... he needs the utmost care for his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder," Salmon said. "Honestly I don't think that a lot of the folks in Mexico really understand it (PTSD) like we do in the states."

The decision will ultimately be left up to the current attorney general, who Salmon said has been responsive in the negotiations and has decided not to charge Tahmooressi with arms trafficking.

Tahmooressi still faces charges for crossing the border with weapons, but is no longer accused of trying to sell those weapons.

Salmon said he is upset with the lack of response from President Barack Obama's administration and by Secretary of State John Kerry.

"The president has been conspicuously absent in this whole discussion and he needs to speak out," he said. "I think the president needs to engage at least John Kerry, they've done nothing publicly on this and it's way past time for them to get involved."

The lack of response is even more confounding, Salmon said, after more than 100,000 people have signed a petition to the White House calling for them to get involved.

Salmon is part of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and is the chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee and said he has purview within the committee over Mexico, which is why he decided to visit Tahmooressi. He said his meetings with Mexican officials to release Tahmooressi have been fruitful and said he is optimistic about a resolution in the near future.

"I'll be speaking with the ambassador from Mexico again (Monday) and it is our good fortune that the ambassador from Mexico to the United States used to be the attorney general for Mexico," Salmon said. "I feel very fortunate that my conversations thus far have been very positive...he (Tahmooressi) shouldn't have been there this long, but I feel like it won't be much longer."

About the Author

A southern California native, Mark Remillard began working in radio in 2010 while in community college as a host of late night and weekend programming for publicly supported 88.5 FM KSBR. While working through college, Mark also interned for the Bill Handel Radio Program at Los Angeles' KFI AM640, where he began his work in journalism. Mark moved to Arizona in August 2012 to finish his bachelor's degree at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and graduated in August 2014. Mark began working as a reporter for KTAR in November 2012.


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