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U.S. Marine Jailed in Mexico Sustained by Faith in Christ

AP Photo/J Pat Carter

Brian Fraga - published on 06/04/14 - updated on 06/07/17

Osuna added that Andrew Tahmooressi’s 911 call was a "helpful piece of evidence," but added that he was looking at "other facts" that included Tahmooressi’s account of his experience at the Mexican Customs facility and the interrogation he went through by customs agents. Osuna also said he was unable to speak with Tahmooressi for almost three weeks because of Tahmooressi’s "self-inflicted neck wound" and attempted escape from the La Mesa Prison.

"When the prison authorities felt he was no longer a risk to others and himself, then we had some limited access to him, but surrounded by five prison guards," Osuna said. "Clearly, not the best conditions to have a candid interview with a client."

At La Mesa, where he was held for almost five weeks, Tahmooressi was shackled in a manner that his arms were held behind his head and his legs twisted to a point that he lost circulation. According to what he also told his mother and Marine Corps veterans, the Mexican prison guards stripped him naked, punched him in the jaw and hit him in the abdominal area, which caused him to gasp for breath.

"I would say that’s a form of torture," Jill Tahmooressi said.

Podlaski said Andrew Tahmooressi told him during a recent phone conversation that the guards beat him in front of their colleagues.

"The most frustrating thing he said was that he felt helpless, being chained up and having these puny guys coming in, showing off to their friends by beating him," Podlaski said. "This is worse than a POW camp because at least there the enemy is trying to gain information. These people were just beating him for pure satisfaction. It’s sick. If this happened to any other American, this would be bogus."

Jill Tahmooressi said her son tried escaping La Mesa because of the alleged abuse and death threats that he had received from Mexican gang members in the prison.

"He called me that night. He thought he was going to die," Tahmooressi said. "I prayed that God would be with him and protect him."

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman told reporters on May 30 that Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Tahmooressi’s case with Mexican officials when he was in that country the prior week. The spokeswoman said the possibility of a veteran being abused in a Mexican prison was "an issue of huge concern," and added that United States consular officers have attended his court hearings and visited him in prison.

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, Calif., a Marine Corps veteran who has been among the most vocal members of Congress in Tahmooressi’s case, said the situation "underscores the immediate need for a new form of legal treatment by U.S. officials when incursions occur" by Mexican officials.

"Perhaps Mexico should be reminded of the hundreds of military and law enforcement incursions at the border, where officials and personnel have entered the U.S. without permission and most always carrying weapons," Hunter said.

The Mexican Embassy in Washington D.C. did not return a message seeking comment.

In their May 8 letter to Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam, Duncan and other federal lawmakers said Tahmooressi was "a Marine Corps veteran who served his country honorably."

Mark Podlaski, who served in the same platoon with Tahmooressi in the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines out of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, described his former roommate as a "selfless, humble and confident" Marine who always "led by example."

"His uniform was always squared away. He set the standard for excellence," Podlaski said. "He always led from the front. He would never ask another Marine to do something if he wasn’t going to do it himself. He was huge on teamwork, on and off the battlefield."

Long before his current situation, Podlaski said Tahmooressi was "constantly preaching" to him to get "right with God." On his chest, Podlaski said Tahmooressi has a large tattoo of Christ and three crosses.

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