A petition on the White House website asking President Obama to demand the release of a Marine sergeant in a Mexico prison has garnered more than 100,000 online signatures -- a threshold that typically elicits an administration response.
“The effect of this unjust incarceration on a decorated combat Marine is despairing,” says the petition, which as of Saturday afternoon had 116,051 signatures.
Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi was arrested March 31 after crossing the Mexican border with three guns in his truck.
Tahmooressi said he accidentally crossed the border and immediately told Mexican authorities that he had three guns in his possession and that he was unable to make a U-turn.
He said he was handcuffed and taken to prison and that his treatment worsened when he tried to escape.
Tahmooressi, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, said guards hit him so many times in face that he felt his jaw fall out of place.
He also said he was stripped naked and chained to a bed, with his feet on one end and his hands on another.
A State Department official, in a letter on Friday to Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who has been pushing for the Marine's release, said consular officers have visited Tahmooressi 12 times.
The State Department said last week they have raised concerns with Mexican authorities about his treatment.
“We've been very engaged,” said department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “We'll continue to press the case.”
She also said Secretary of State John Kerry has been involved in the situation.
The White House describes the online petition effort as “a new way to petition the Obama administration to take action on a range of important issues.”
Some administration responses are messages posted on the site, which now has 82 petitions.