SAN DIEGO – A decorated American Marine who accidentally crossed the Mexico border carrying guns that are legal in the U.S. but illegal south of the border says he trusts God for his future – but he'd also like an answer from President Obama.
Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, 25, who has been held in Mexico's prison system since March, had a court hearing on his case on Wednesday, and on Thursday the judge ruled that he must stay behind bars for a further time period – at least until another hearing expected later in the summer.
WND has reported how Tahmooressi, who has served as a Marine reservist in two overseas combat tours of duty in Afghanistan, has been in jail since March. He said he was driving near the Mexican border and got caught in a traffic lane that did not allow him to return to the U.S.
Tahmooressi said he stopped immediately, explained to Mexican authorities the mistake and asked to return to the U.S. While he said he would have likely been allowed to return, Mexican military officials got involved and ordered him detained.
In an interview from his Mexican jail cell, Tahmooressi confirmed that the U.S. State Department has not contacted him, nor has he been able to talk with them.
"I believe my mom has been reaching out to congressmen and government officials," he said in the telephone interview. "Myself? No."
Tahmooressi said he hasn't heard from Obama, and he is asking that people continue to apply pressure to obtain that intervention.
He said Americans "could help me by continuing to raise awareness, continue to sign the petition to try to get a response from the president."
"And prayer," he said. "Prayer always helps."
The website was set up by the Obama administration to allow people to express their concerns and, if enough people sign, to obtain a response from Obama.
In Tahmooressi's case, however, the 100,000 signature threshold was reached before the May 31 deadline, and now it stands at nearly 130,000 names.
But there's still been no response from Obama.
The sergeant's mother, Jill Tahmooressi, has issued a plea for Americans to step up and help with some of the costs associated with her son's fight for freedom in Mexico. She offered a link to the Campaign Solutions fundraising website.
She earlier told WND that it appears the Obama administration is stonewalling pleas for help.
She said, "We are very disappointed in the White House. We did what they said we had to do to get a response from the White House, but we have not heard a thing."
Jill has characterized Mexican officials involved in the American's case as being more communicative than the Obama administration.
She said she doesn't understand why, even after she and an entire grassroots effort worked to get the required 100,000-plus signatures to free the Marine, he still sits in a Mexican prison, and there has been no response at all from anyone in the White House.
"His human rights are being violated," Jill said. "He has PTSD resulting from fighting for this country (on two separate tours of duty in Afghanistan), and yet he is getting no treatment for it at all."
After the judge's announcement Thursday, billionaire and regular Obama critic Donald Trump said on Fox News the White House could do more to help Tahmooressi.
"[Just] one phone call – and I mean a strong phone call – and he would be released in a second," Trump said.
The sergeant told WND he was allowed a "celebration" for the July 4th holiday, because, "I had my pastor come and he hung out with me for a little bit. They let me out in this big gymnasium area where I got to run around a bit. So I did get to celebrate."
He acknowledged the U.S. government's debacle called Fast and Furious – in which authorities sold guns illegally to straw buyers who then took them to Mexican drug cartels – could have played a role in his situation.
"That could be a definite possibility," he said.
While behind bars, Tahmooressi has been very aware of Americans fighting for him.
"It makes me feel good," he said. "I'm very thankful for all these great people. It makes me feel like I've got an army of supporters having my back."
He said what Americans might find surprising is that he gets "only a piece of bread and some sugar water for dinner."
Lunches are a little better, he said, with some chicken or beef.
And beans are served, too, he said.
He was transferred from an older prison, where he actually feared for his life, weeks ago.
Now, he said, "It's much better. The first prison I was at had a problem with bedbugs everywhere. We don't have that problem here yet. The cell is clean … as clean as I can keep up with it."
One problem now?
Mosquitoes in his cell.
"It would like to thank everyone, America, for support me, for giving me their time to hear me out, to fight for me, and the American leaders as well. I know there are quite a few American leaders that have got my back."
He also thanks his mom.
"She's like a mama bear that loves her cub a whole lot," he said. "She's very strong. She puts her faith in God and Jesus Christ. That gives her her strength."
As for himself?
"I pray whenever, I don't have a routine really, whenever I feel like I need to pray, I pray," Tahmooressi said. "I keep a positive mind for the most part knowing that He's in control, that He's going to get me out of here, He has good plans for me in the future."