U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi has been detained by Mexican authorities since March 31, when he says he accidentally drove across the border with three legally registered firearms in his vehicle. Much of his time has been spent in La Mesa Penitentiary, one of Mexico's most dangerous and notorious prisons.
On Monday, Tahmooressi called Glenn Beck from prison with the help of his mother, Jill Tahmooressi, for a live radio interview about the circumstances that led to his arrest, and what has happened since. The 25-year-old also divulged a number of disturbing new details about his confinement.
"I was put in a small cell that was meant for six people," Tahmooressi told Beck, speaking calmly throughout the entire interview. "There was about 15 to 20 people in there. ... There were murderers in there, and kidnappers and drug dealers and all these people. And there I was, someone who's not a criminal, never done a crime before, never been to prison. I was nervous."
Tahmooressi said the other inmates threatened to rape and kill him, terrorizing him until, he said, he was "fearful to the point where my heart was pounding and I couldn't have gotten a single word out if I had to yell for help." Tahmooressi said he knew if he stayed in that cell, he was "not going to see tomorrow."
That was the night he tried to escape.
Jill Tahmooressi has shared with TheBlaze how she received a gut-wrenching phone call that day from her son. She said he begged her not to come down and investigate if he didn't survive, or she would be killed, too.
Tahmooressi didn't make it far before he was was caught and shot at by a prison guard, at which point he surrendered.
"After that, I got punished physically for maybe, like, 20 minutes to 30 minutes," Tahmooressi told Beck. "After that I was stripped naked and I was handcuffed, both my legs and my hands around the post of a bunk bed. And I was there for maybe 12 hours, or maybe 10 hours, overnight, you know, shivering in the cold, naked."
This May 3, 2014, photo shows Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressimat Tijuana's La Mesa Penitentiary. (San Diego, Alejandro Tamayo/AP Photo)
Tahmooressi said the next day, one of his legs was chained to one wall, and his arm was chained to a separate wall roughly 2 feet above his head.
"I was there with my hand dangling above my head with no circulation going to my -- or a very minimum circulation -- going to my fingers there for about maybe, I think it was maybe 24 hours with no food, no water," he continued.
Tahmooressi said that after all the threats he had received, he was still afraid the prisoners were going to find him and torture him for information about his family.
"So I said I'm not going to let them do that," Tahmooressi told Beck. "There was a light bulb on the ceiling, and I took this light bulb and I broke it and I stabbed myself in the neck. I said I'm not going to let them take my life, I'm going to take my own life. That was my train of thought then. And I was there on my knees praying with blood pouring out of my neck, puddled on the floor, and thankfully, thank God, the prisoners were outside the door and I think they heard the smash of the light bulb, and they came in. And I blacked out from there, and I remember waking up on a bed in a room in the prison with IVs in my arms."
After Tahmooressi received medical care, he was sent back to solitary confinement where his hands and feet were handcuffed to a bed for roughly 30 days.
Beck asked Tahmooressi if he could give him his word that he is innocent, and that he had no illicit intentions in Mexico.
"God as my witness I was not there doing any criminal activity," Tahmooressi said. "I had no intent on doing any harm or breaking any laws or selling any guns or anything of that sort. I've never been like that before in my life. I've always been a peaceful, loving man and I don't break the law. I did not intend to do anything of that sort at all."
Tahmooressi, who faces up to 21 years in prison if convicted, said he is "confident" the judge is going to see he is innocent. He is also grateful for the lawmakers who have taken up his case, and that Secretary of State John Kerry recently got involved.
"I think it's just a matter of time, just a matter of me going to court and I think they're going to realize that I'm not guilty," he said. "And I think it's gonna move pretty quick from here, I hope."
Beck and his radio co-hosts remarked on how calm Tahmooressi was throughout the interview, saying he didn't seem bitter or out of control in any way.
"He's not angry. He's not a guy who's saying crazy thing things, accusing everybody of everything," Stu Burguiere remarked. "He's calm. He's rational. This seems like an obvious case of one wrong turn. And how this takes 63 days to turn around, I don't understand."
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