Bikers ride to border to protest for Marine's release from Mexican jail

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- A group of bikers headed to the United States-Mexico border Thursday morning to protest for the release of a U.S. Marine from a Mexican jail.

Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi has been incarcerated since March, when he drove across the Mexican border with three guns inside his truck.

The Obama administration's efforts to free captured American soldier Bowe Bergdahl got the patriot riders rolling. They believe the federal government is not doing enough to free the 25-year-old Marine.

"The breaking point for me was when we let five terrorists go to spring a traitor," ride organizer John Harrington said.

The riders say they are not only angered by the government's lack of action but also by reports of how the Marine has been treated in jail.

Tahmooressi's aunt, Glendale resident Beth Whitney, told 3TV in May that her nephew was beaten, stripped naked and chained at four points in his first jail. She said he was then moved to another jail, where he has been kept in isolation.

"Being strapped to a bed by all four appendages, naked, for 30 days, I'd say that's good. It's time for somebody to step in and do something," Harrington said.

Whitney also said her nephew fired his first attorney after being told to lie, postponing court hearings.

"I don't understand the Mexican system of justice, but it seems to me that it was an accidental crossing," said Mike Sullivan with Riders USA. "He didn't mean to be there. There's no reason for the treatment he's had in that situation."

Tahmooressi reportedly walked into Tijuana to shop but when he got back into his car on the U.S. side of the border, he missed his exit to San Diego and ended up back in Mexico. The guns he was carrying are allowed in the U.S. but illegal to bring into Mexico.

"It's just an egregious act by the Mexican government," said rider Vince Anselmo. "This is uncalled for. This man is not a criminal. This is a true American hero they've got down there."

Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon recently visited the Marine at el Hongo II prison in Tijuana and said he seemed to be in good spirits. He also said he was confident Tahmooressi would be treated respectfully.

The bikers began their ride in the Valley and hoped to pick up others on their way to the Tijuana border crossing.

They weren't sure whether they would cross the border, but Harrington said, "It's certainly something I'm willing to do if I can and if need be. I brought my passport."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ariz. family rallies to free Marine from Mexican jail