(Fox News) U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, jailed more than 200 days in Mexico, was freed by a judge Friday and immediately returned to the U.S., his family said.
Tahmooressi, 26, who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, had been held since March 31, when he said he mistakenly crossed into Mexico with three legally-purchased and registered guns in his truck.
A court-appointed psychiatrist confirmed that Tahmooressi has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Family spokesman Jonathan Franks said the judge released him without making a determination on the charge against him. He had been held initially at a prison outside Tijuana, then was moved to a prison outside Tecate.
His family released a statement Friday night saying, “It is with an overwhelming and humbling feeling of relief that we confirm that Andrew was released today after spending 214 days in a Mexican jail. He is back on American soil and will shortly resume treatment for both his pre-existing combat related PTSD and the residual effects of months of incarceration – which has taken a toll on him far worse than his two tours in Afghanistan.”
Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is said to have played a major part in the release efforts, according to a statement released by the Richardson Center for Global Engagement Friday night.
Governor Richardson was instrumental in the release efforts and will accompany Andrew and his mother, Jill Tahmooressi, following his release, on a private flight back to Florida,” the statement said.
Tahmooressi and his mother will return to Florida late in the day Tuesday, the statement also said.
The Florida man said he got lost on a California freeway ramp that sent him across the border with no way to turn back. His long detention brought calls for his freedom from U.S. politicians, veterans groups and social media campaigns.
In Mexico, possession of weapons restricted for use by the Army is a federal crime, and the country has been tightening up its border checks to stop the flow of US weapons that have been used by drug cartels.
Tahmooressi reportedly had three weapons, all registered in the U.S., including a .45 caliber pistol, a 12-gauge shotgun and an AR-15 rifle.
Tahmooressi’s lawyers have maintained the weapons in the truck were there because he had recently moved from Florida to San Diego, and had all of his possessions, including the legally-purchased weapons, in his vehicle when he was stopped at the border.
Members of Congress were quick to react to the news of the release.
Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, immediately issued a statement saying, “I am elated that Sgt. Tahmooressi has been ordered released from jail in Mexico. This is great, but overdue, news. I am pleased that both Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam and the judge on the case recognize that Sgt. Tahmooressi did not intend to violate Mexican law, and that his combat-related PTSD should be treated by specialists in the United States.”
In Florida, Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents the district where Tahmooressi’s’ mother, Jill, lives, said in a statement, “I am thrilled that Sergeant Tahmooressi has been released from prison in Mexico. We have waited long enough. As a mother, my heart is with Jill Tahmooressi tonight and I can only imagine the many emotions she must be experiencing, namely the relief in knowing her son is coming home and that they will soon be reunited without prison bars, without handlers and without unnecessary travel.”
Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, said, “I am truly overjoyed to hear the news that our Marine Sgt. Tahmooressi is finally coming home to America. During my last visit with Andrew in a Mexican prison, I told him the next time I saw him would be during his release to America; I am grateful that I will be able to keep that promise and be with him and (his mother) Mrs. Tahmooressi as he returns to the United States tonight.”