Saturday, November 1, 2014
Mexico releases U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi on humanitarian grounds
Marine reserve Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi was ordered freed yesterday by a federal court in Tijuana, 214 days after he was detained for the illegal possession of firearms in Baja California state.
The court did not adjudicate the case to a verdict of guilt or innocence. It merely accepted defense recommendations that Tahmooressi be returned to the United States for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Prosecution medical consultants agreed several weeks ago that the sergeant, who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, suffers from PTSD.
In a Twitter message early this morning, Tahmooressi's defense attorney Fernando Benítez said, "Out of respect for my client, I will issue no statement until he's home."
Tahmooressi and his vocal supporters, including most in the American press, insisted to the end that the sergeant mistakenly entered Tijuana at the San Yisdro border crossing on the evening of Mar. 31 because he was unfamiliar with the area and was confused by road signs. But prosecutors and U.S. State Dept. officials disputed that claim, noting the Marine had spent much of the previous 24 hours on the Mexican side. This morning CNN reported that Tahmooressi had crossed the border at least six times in the days prior to his arrest for possession of weapons and ammunition.
Former U.N. ambassador and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, who traveled to Tecate to visit Sgt. Tahmooressi and lobby for his release, praised the judge for "making the right decision just on humanitarian grounds," noting that "Mexico does not have a lot of experience with PTSD cases."
In an interview this morning Richardson avoided the question of Tahmooressi's guilt or innocence. "He's a good young man, and we have to stand behind our troops. He's a war hero," he told CNN.
Mexican officials have not yet commented on Tahmooressi's release, but Tijuana prosecutors did not oppose the defense motion to return the sergeant to the U.S. for medical treatment.
Oct. 1 - U.S. Marine Sgt. Tahmooressi's defense does a 180, as House committee puts the full court press on Mexico
Sept. 9 - No Tijuana exit today for Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi
June 7 - Mexico's comments on case of jailed U.S. Marine Andrew Paul Tahmooressi will not encourage his supporters
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