SAN DIEGO - A Marine jailed in a Mexican prison after he allegedly tried to cross the border with three registered firearms said in an interview this week that the abuse he has undergone while behind bars drove him to attempt suicide.
Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi told CNN’s Chris Cuomo in a phone interview that aired Friday that he tried to kill himself with a shattered light bulb because he became paranoid after he got hog-tied to a prison bed.
“I had one hand above my head, not both, just one,” Tahmooressi said. “I was laying on a bed. One leg was on one opposite wall, and the other on the other wall above my head, maybe a foot-and-a-half, two feet. And yes, I did, when I got the opportunity, I decided to stab myself in the neck with a light bulb.”
“I was paranoid,” he went on. “I had been abused. I was thinking they were going to come and abuse me more and torture me and get information about my family from me. So I said I'm not going to allow them to do that.”
On March 31, the 25-year-old was arrested after he drove into Mexico with three U.S. registered firearms. He claims he missed the final U-turn just before the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Tahmooressi was arrested for bringing guns into the country, and later, for trying to escape.
Tahmooressi and his mother initially stated he had just moved to San Diego, and this was the first time he had ever tried to cross into Mexico. However, that story began to unravel after Mexican media reports surfaced alleging that he had crossed the border several times prior.
Last week, his mother changed the story. Jill said Tahmooressi actually walked into Mexico earlier on the day of his arrest to get lunch, then crossed back to get his truck. She told 10News that her son's attorney directed Tahmooressi to tell Mexican prosecutors that he had never crossed the border.
The former Marine verified that account of the events Friday.
“I stayed in a hotel earlier in the day… `I parked my truck at a parking lot on the American side across from Mexico. And I walk into Mexico with a backpack with extra clothes and hygiene supplies, passport, wallet. And I decide to go hang out in Mexico for some good Mexican food, inexpensive place to stay and to hang out.”
Tahmooressi told Cuomo he had been in Mexico only four times prior to his arrest.
“I went with my friend a couple times to Mexico just to hang out.”
However, he continued to reiterate that he did not intend to cross the border on the night of his arrest, but that he took a wrong turn.
“Is it your claim that the only reason you wound up in Mexico this time was because of a couple wrong left turns?” Cuomo asked.
“Yes, that is correct,” Tahmooressi responded.
He added that his visits were “absolutely not” for the purpose of trafficking weapons or for business, but were purely social in nature, despite the skepticism that might be met with my Mexican authorities.
“I know what they're going to say,” Tahmooressi said of them. “They're going to say a whole bunch of lies… And I just know that the truth will set me free and that -- I'm not worried about the officials, because they've already been caught in lies.”
Jill said Tahmooressi -- who completed two tours in Afghanistan -- had moved to San Diego from Florida several months prior to his arrest to seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Tahmooressi said he is currently not taking medication while in prison and does not believe he needs it.
I'm treating myself, yes,” Tahmooressi said. “I don't believe I need medication to treat myself right now. I think I'm doing just fine.”
The abuses have stopped since the media coverage of his arrest ramped up, he said. Last month he was moved from a state penitentiary in Tijuana to a federal prison in Tecate, about 40 miles away.
“No, sir, no abuses, everything's been good ever since news coverage.”
The incident has received attention from several politicians. Congressmen Duncan Hunter and Scott Peters have written letters to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, hoping for a diplomatic intervention. There have also been rallies on Tahmooressi's behalf, coast-to-coast.
“I don't know what they're going to do to help me,” Tahmooressi said of the U.S. intervenention. “I think if they do help me, it's probably just going to be behind the scenes and not too many people, or anyone -- the public, isn't going to know about it.”
Last week, Tahmooressi fired his lawyer and hired a new federal attorney that specializes in international criminal law.
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