Washington DC—U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter said today that Mexican officials violated the rights of Andrew Tahmooressi in the hours and days immediately following his arrest for mistakenly crossing the border with three legally-owned firearms.  Hunter indicated that the violations might be enough to fast-track Andrew’s case. 

“Andrew has a knowledgeable and effective legal team that is capable of doing what his previous two lawyers couldn’t—and that’s getting this case moving in the right direction,” said Rep. Hunter.  “The legally-permitted window of time to dismiss the case—or ask for a dismissal—passed in the first weeks of Andrew’s incarceration.  Why?  His first lawyer never made the request.  And the second lawyer never filed a single piece of paper.  Now, at least, Andrew’s case is back on track and the days after the August 4 hearing could present the first real opportunity for dismissal due to the violation of Andrew’s rights—including the failure to appropriately provide Andrew with a translator among other missteps.

“The one person who can address these violations right now and dismiss the charges against Andrew is the Mexican Attorney General.  Over the next several days, I will be working with other members of the House to bring these issues to the attention of the Attorney General in the hope that Mexico will ultimately do the right thing and release Andrew to his family.”

Rep. Hunter is also circulating a letter among his House colleagues.  Text follows:

Dear Colleague:

Every day, I am asked about former Marine Corps Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi, who was arrested by Mexican officials on April 1, 2014, at a checkpoint on the U.S.-Mexico border.  In Andrew’s vehicle were three legally-owned firearms, which he disclosed to border officials as soon as he was directed to secondary screening.

After several postponed proceedings, a first evidentiary hearing was held on July 9 and Andrew’s next hearing is set for August 4.  The upcoming hearing is the first real opportunity for things to change for Andrew and possibly represent the first step toward his official release. 

The reason this process has taken so long is because Andrew’s two previous lawyers weren’t up to the task—but now, Andrew has a legal team—led by Fernando Benitez—that knows the law and knows how to win… And win in Mexico, where the legal system presents a different set of challenges. 

It was the first attorney who missed the lawfully permitted window of time to request dismissal of the case.  The second attorney never even filed paperwork.  So Mr. Benitez is working to fix things and he has both the evidence and strategy to get Andrew home. 

At the first evidentiary hearing, important details emerged that Andrew was held in violation of the law.  Among the missteps were clear “humanitarian violations,” including the inability to appropriately provide Andrew a translator.  There is also a 911 audio recording that my office recovered, where Andrew states he had made a mistake entering Mexico.  Of course, on the basis of intent, Andrew had no intention of driving into Mexico—and his emergency phone call indicates that fact.

Much of this will come to light in the August hearing.  And if there a chance at dismissal, the opportunity will be in the days immediately following that hearing.

But there is one person who can do what the court cannot.  Mexico’s Attorney General can move to dismiss the charges against Andrew—something he can do today.  So in the coming days, I will be sending a letter to Mexico’s Attorney General outlining specific information and asking for Andrew’s release. 

I ask that you consider joining me in writing to the Mexican Attorney General.

Thank you.