Arizona Congressman calls for hearing on Marine jailed in Mexico

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PHOENIX -- An Arizona congressman is holding a Capitol Hill hearing focused on the US Marine being held in a Mexican prison.

Mexican police took Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi into custody in March, as he drove his vehicle across the border near Tijuana. He said it was an accident, and wanted to turn around.

Tahmooressi had all of his belongings with him, because he was moving to San Diego for post-traumatic stress disorder treatment. His belongings included three legally-purchased firearms. Mexican police used the guns as a reason to arrest him.

"It makes me very angry. It's very damaging to a man who's already suffering," Congressman Matt Salmon told 3TV Tuesday.

Salmon is chairing a hearing on Wednesday, which is designed to pressure the Mexican government to release Tahmooressi on humanitarian grounds.

"They should let him come home to be properly treated. [Mexican prison officials] have no experience treating people suffering from PTSD," said Salmon.

Congress is on a break, but Salmon is expecting at least a dozen members to show up for the House of Representatives' Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing.

"We've had a strong bilateral relationship with Mexico and they have to understand that these kinds of things put a big strain on that relationship," said Salmon. "On humanitarian grounds they should allow him to come home and be treated for post-traumatic stress disorder."

Salmon has traveled to meet with the Marine twice.

His friends say Tahmooressi's health is deteriorating.

"He talks about being bored and having difficulty keeping bad thoughts out of his head, which is typical. That's why they don't generally isolate people with mental health conditions because it's triggering," Jonathan Franks told 3TV. "It's not a stretch to think that 6 months with no treatment whatsoever could put him in dire straits."

Tahmooressi's mother, a fellow Marine who served with Tahmooressi in Afghanistan, and Montel Williams are among those scheduled to testify.

Franks said, "This has now gone on for six months. For what? Whatever political problems we have now, it's going to be much worse if something happens to him in custody."