A U.S. Marine veteran is back home in South Florida after he spent eight months behind bars in Mexico for crossing the border with loaded guns.
After a Mexican judge ordered his immediate release Friday, retired Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi flew home aboard a private plane with his mother, Jill Tahmooressi, former ambassador and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce. They landed at the Opa-Locka Airport in Miami just before 6 a.m. Saturday morning.
"They're just spending time together, trying to figure out what's next," family spokesman Jon Franks told reporters. "They need some time to decompress."
Franks said the tearful reunion between mother and son was "remarkable," adding, "They spent a great deal of the flight catching up."
While neither Jill nor Andrew Tahmooressi attended the press conference, Franks said the family is grateful for the outcome, calling it a "very just conclusion."
Tahmooressi has said he took a wrong turn on a California freeway that funneled him into a Tijuana port of entry with no way to turn back. His detention brought calls for his freedom from U.S. politicians, veterans groups and social media campaigns.
"It is with an overwhelming and humbling feeling of relief that we confirm that Andrew was released today after spending 214 days in Mexican Jail," the family said in a statement Friday.
The judge called for Tahmooressi to be freed because of his mental state and did not make a determination on the illegal arms charges against the Afghanistan veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Jill Tahmoressi said her son's PTSD could not be adequately treated in Mexico.
The judge's order mentioned a need for PTSD treatment, which Franks said will begin soon.
The U.S. Department of State issued the following statement regarding Tahmooressi's release:
"We are pleased Mexican judicial authorities ordered Sgt. Tahmooressi released on October 31. He is now in the United States. Throughout Mr. Tahmooressi's incarceration the Department of State provided consular assistance and followed his case very closely, communicating with him and family members constantly and facilitating many visits by U.S. officials, Members of Congress, and family members. The efforts made by Sgt. Tahmooressi's family, legal team, and supporters - private citizens as well as from the U.S. legislative and executive branches - to work through the Mexican legal process to resolve this issue have allowed Sgt. Tahmooressi to receive required medical care. We are grateful for the excellent cooperation we received from Mexican authorities, who provided prompt and continued consular access, visitations, and regular accommodation of multiple requests made by the U.S. Government and defense team on behalf of Mr. Tahmooressi."