WASHINGTON, July 9 2014 — Marine Sergeant Tahmooressi today told Mexican Judge Fernando Benitez de Castillo that Mexican custom agents asked him for money, weapons and a vehicle to set him free, according to a posting by Mexican reporter Said Betanzos on his Facebook page at approximately 3:30 today.
The Judge announced to the Court before the proceedings that the hearing was to present evidence, and that three customs officers would testify.
Under the Mexican judicial system, a single judge will decide Tahmooressi’s fate. The judge will review testimony from Tahmooressi and from officials as well as other evidence before making a decision. That decision could take up to another year.
The next hearing will take place in August.
Tahmooressi, a former U.S. Marine, has been held in a Mexican jail for 101 days. He was finally allowed to present his case to a judge today.
According to Tahmooressi, he was arrested by Mexican authorities on April 1, when he accidentally took a wrong turn and crossed the border. At the time of his arrest, Tahmooressi had three firearms in his car, all of which were legally registered.
Mexican officials say Tahmooressi had crossed the border three previous times.
He has spent the last 101 days in a Mexican jail, sometimes handcuffed to his cot.
The American has received support from high-profile celebrities including Gary Sinese, and talk show host Greta Van Susteren who publicized the hash tag #MarineHeldInMexico.
Several U.S. lawmakers have also championed Tahmooressi’s cause, including U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has lobbied for his release; U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., who visited Tahmooressi in prison; U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.; and Senator John McCain, R-Ariz.
In early June, the White House finally broke its silence on Tahmooressi and issued a statement. At that time, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the situation with Tahmooressi is different from that of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, because the latter was being held by an enemy combatant.
“I don’t have a lot of information to provide you in terms of the current efforts underway,” Earnest said.
Earnest then added, “Certainly the president is concerned about all detainees or Americans who are being held against their will in other countries. This is something the president is certainly concerned about. But in terms of what specific efforts are underway, I’d refer you to the State Department.”
Critics say the White House has not worked hard enough to win the release of Tahmooressi.
The Mexican judge could decide Tahmooressi’s fate as early as today.