U.S. Marine reservist Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, jailed in Mexico on gun charges since March, was ordered released by a judge in Mexico on Friday, according to documents released by the court.
The California native, 26, was arrested on March 31 after he says he got lost and crossed the Mexican border with three firearms in his pickup truck. Tahmooressi served two tours of duty in Afghanistan.
The family of Tahmooressi issued the following statement: “It is with an overwhelming and humbling feeling of relief that we confirm that Andrew was released today after spending 214 days in Mexican Jail.”
According to the Sixth District Court of Criminal Proceedings in the Federal State of Baja California in Tijuana, the charges against Tahmooressi were dismissed and he is free to go.
The possession of any weapon restricted for the use of the Army is a federal crime in Mexico regardless of whether visitors declare it or not upon entering the country.
“During my last visit with Andrew in a Mexican prison, I told him the next time I saw him would be during his release to America; I am grateful that I will be able to keep that promise and be with him and Mrs. Tahmooressi as he returns to the United States tonight,” said Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Arizona. “Andrew is a brave Marine who served his country with honor, and I have long maintained that he has been held in a Mexican prison for far too long, and needed to be returned to the United States to receive proper treatment for the PTSD that he suffers from as a direct result of his heroic service to our nation.”
Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office defended its decision to prosecute Tahmooressi in a statement released in June.
“In Mexico, like in the United States, ignorance of the law, error, misperceptions or misunderstandings about the consequences of violating a law, are not exemptions from responsibility,” prosecutors said in the statement.
Tahmooressi’s mother Jill in July said she was able to spent 20 minutes with her son after a court hearing, when he was ordered to be held in jail.
“He’s very strong. He’s very strong and positive. And he’s confident,” she said then.
The State Department had been actively engaged in the case. Consular officers have visited Tahmooressi numerous times, and at least 71 members of Congress have signed a bi-partisan letter asking the judge for leniency.
Unlike American law, in Mexico one is guilty until proven innocent and the decision rests solely in the judge’s hands.
With reporting by ABC’s Moseh Gains and The Associated Press.