More than 134,000 people signed a petition asking the Obama administration to demand the release of U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi from a Mexican prison. Tahmooressi, who is reportedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, has been imprisoned for nearly five months after being arrested for unintentionally crossing into Mexico with firearms.
The White House responded to the popular petition on Friday, calling for Mexican authorities to handle the Marine’s case “expeditiously” rather than demanding his release.
Read the White House’s full response below:
The U.S. State Department continues to provide extensive consular assistance to Mr. Tahmooressi, and will do so until his case is resolved. As in all cases when a U.S. citizen is arrested overseas, our goal is to see that Mr. Tahmooressi is treated fairly during the judicial process with the hope that he can receive the support, both emotional and medical, that he may require now and at the conclusion of the proceedings.
Mexico is one of the United States’ most important partners. We have close economic and cultural ties, and we work closely with them on numerous sensitive issues. While we will not go into detail about our private diplomatic discussions on this case, U.S. officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have spoken to Mexican officials at the highest levels regarding Mr. Tahmooressi’s case.
Mexican authorities have been very willing to engage on this issue. They have provided prompt and continued consular access and visitations. As a result, the State Department has been able to provide regular updates on Mr. Tahmooressi’s condition to his family, Members of Congress, and the press.
We respect the rule of law and expect the judicial process of sovereign nations to protect other U.S. citizens who might find themselves in similar circumstances in the future. We will continue to monitor the case and work with the Mexican authorities as this case proceeds through the Mexican judicial system. We continue to urge the Mexican authorities to process this case expeditiously.
Tahmooressi claims that he took a wrong turn and ended up at a border checkpoint. It was discovered that he was traveling with three firearms, a serious offense under Mexico’s strict gun laws.
Tahmooressi faces up to 14 years in prison if he’s convicted of illegally possessing guns and ammunition.