- The Washington Times - Monday, June 2, 2014

A petition asking President Obama to demand the release of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi from a Mexican prison has surpassed the 100,000 signatures needed for an official White House response.

Sgt. Tahmooressi, 25, said he took a wrong turn while heading to dinner on March 31 and wound up at a border crossing point in Tijuana. The veteran said he told Mexican authorities upfront about the three guns inside his truck and that he was lost, but he was taken to prison anyway on weapons charges.

“The effect of this unjust incarceration on a decorated combat Marine is despairing,” says the petition, which had 118,578 as of Monday morning.

Sgt. Tahmooressi, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, said guards beat him until his jaw fell out of place, Fox News reported. He also said he was stripped naked and chained to a bed.

“[S]ince incarceration his life has been threatened; sustained a neck wound requiring hospitalization and chained in a 4-point restraint, 26+days,” the petition reads.

A State Department official said consular officers have visited Sgt. Tahmooressi 12 times and have raised concerns with the Mexican government about his treatment, Fox News reported.

“We’ve been very engaged,” said department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “We’ll continue to press the case.”

Sgt. Tahmooressi fired his attorneys prior to a hearing last week, causing a judge to cancel. A Mexican judicial source told CNN that his next court hearing will be June 4, but his mother, Jill Tahmooressi, said it won’t be for weeks.

The Marine said things are getting better for him in prison and the abuse has subsided.

“Since I got media coverage and people, I guess, realized that I’m not dangerous, it’s been pretty relaxed and not so bad — after the first month,” he told CNN.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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