Lawmakers calling for return of Marine detained in Mexico

Some lawmakers returned to Washington this week, in the middle of their recess, to demand the release of a U.S. Marine from a Mexican prison where he's been held for six months. How and why he got to Mexico is still not entirely clear.

Support for Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi is growing in Washington with Republican lawmakers calling on the president to take immediate action.

"Our war hero needs to come home," said Congressman Duncan Hunter. "This is why we're in Congress, to represent people like him so we can fight for him when people like our own president won't.

The White House says it's been in talks with Mexican authorities since Tahmooressi's arrest on March 31. He's accused of entering Mexico with three loaded weapons and 400 rounds of ammunition in his truck -- legal in the U.S., but a direct violation of Mexico's strict gun laws.

Tahmooressi's mother, Jill told the committee about that first phone call from her son, who had served two tours in Afghanistan and was in San Diego for treatment of PTSD.

"Mom, I got lost," Tahmooressi's mother said. "I made a wrong turn. I'm at the Mexican border. You need to know this because I've been surrounded by the Mexican military.

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From left, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Jill Tahmooressi of Weston, Fla., mother of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Montel B. Williams, TV personality and veterans advocate, gather on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014.
AP/ J. Scott Applewhite

In the following months, allegations of his mistreatment in Mexican prisons have lead to protests and public outcries.

But Mexican media reports suggest Tahmooressi had already crossed into Tijuana several hours before his arrest. The newspaper Zeta-Tijuana published a hotel registration form allegedly signed by the marine and Mexico's attorney general said Tahmooressi tried to escape prison twice and demonstrated violent and suicidal behavior.

Those are clear warning signs, says former Navy commander and TV host Montel Williams.

"Andrew's incident is clearly triggered by his PTSD," said Williams. "Compassion is what's needed right now. Woe be it for us to let this case go by and then have to deal with the other 600,000 soldiers who are suffering who could make the same mistake."

Unless he's released to the U.S. on humanitarian grounds, Tahmooressi could face up to 21 years in prison.