Former talk show host and military veteran Montel Williams on Thursday released a letter that he penned to Mexico’s leaders last month, imploring them to release imprisoned Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi to the U.S.
The letter, addressed to Mexico’s president, attorney general and ambassador to the U.S., was dated August 20, but only released Thursday to coincide with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) visit to the country.
“I understand New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is in Mexico for meetings with President Nieto, and that is why I am releasing this letter tonight,” Williams said in a statement. “I implore him to press for Andrew to be released on humanitarian grounds so that he may return to the United States to seek treatment.”
[sharequote align=”center”]”I implore him to press for Andrew to be released on humanitarian grounds…”[/sharequote]
In the letter, which Williams said he had intended to keep private, the former military veteran sought to explain the seriousness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which Tahmooressi had previously been diagnosed with near the time his family says he accidentally crossed Mexico’s border, illegally carrying firearms.
“I cannot emphasize enough the gravity of this situation given Sergeant Tahmooressi’s PTSD,” Williams wrote. “He has no mental health care whatsoever since the outset of his incarceration and being held in complete isolation only serves to amplify those symptoms.”
Williams stressed that he intends no “disrespect towards Mexico or its legal system,” but contended that Mexico has a “clear factually basis to immediately release and deport Sgt. Tahmooressi.”
One day after sending his plea to Mexico’s leaders, Williams received a letter from the Minister for Press and Public Affairs informing him that his concerns would be “conveyed to the appropriate officials.” That letter also included several documents outlining Mexico’s case against the imprisoned Marine — documents Williams countered in a follow-up letter.
“While I appreciate the Mexican Embassy’s ‘response’ it was non-responsive to the letter I sent. Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi suffers from severe PTSD – he has now been confined for more than 5 months,” Williams said in a statement. “The very nature of PTSD is that its severity often increases over time without treatment. The Mexican Government has provided no such treatment.”
[sharequote align=”center”]”While I appreciate the Mexican Embassy’s ‘response’ it was non-responsive to the letter I sent.”[/sharequote]
Last week, the White House responded to a popular petition, calling on Mexico’s authorities to handle the case “expeditiously.” The White House, however, fell a step short of demanding Tahmooressi’s immediate release from prison.
The 26-year-old veteran of two tours in Afghanistan, who was being treated for PTSD related to his combat, says he accidentally crossed a California border checkpoint late March 31 and could not turn around before reaching the Mexican government checkpoint. Tahmooressi was in San Diego for treatment related to his PTSD and had all his possessions in his car, after previously moving from Florida. Despite declaring his three-registered weapons to agents at the border, Mexican authorities charged him with violating their gun laws.
A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers sent a letter requesting his immediate return in July. Tahmooressi has now been imprisoned in Mexico for more than 150 days.
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter