OTR Interviews

Montel Williams takes up fight to free Marine jailed in Mexico

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 4, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now, you may know him as a world-famous talk show host, but did you know Montel Williams is a Naval Academy graduate and had active duty in the Navy and Marines for 22 years? So, it's no surprise he's joining the fight to free a U.S. Marine from a Mexican prison.

Montel writing directly to Mexico's president. And Montel Williams joins us. Nice to see you, Montel.

MONTEL WILLIAMS, TALK SHOW HOST: Thanks so much, Greta, for having me. And I think everyone needs to understand that that video that you did is really one of the most poignant reasons -- why every American should stop, look at Fox and see the video. You should play it over and over again to show people how easily any one of us could make a simple mistake and wind up in the same place that Sergeant Tahmooressi has wound up in. But the difference is, that most of us don't suffer from PTSD.

And we've got a soldier who's one of our fallen being held inappropriately in a foreign prison because we're not looking at the detail around it. Your video showed so much that anybody else, that looking at it could clearly say, I get it, let's get this young man out.

VAN SUSTEREN: Montel, what provoked you -- I mean, you wrote a letter directly to the president and then you got a -- you actually got a response back from the Mexican government.

WILLIAMS: I certainly did. And you know, why? Because Jill Tahmooressi, who is Andrew's mom, has reached out to me for the last two and a half-three months, we've been corresponding through my office, going back and forth. She sends a prayer out every single night on behalf of my daughter, who right now is suffering from lymphoma. Now, Jill's got a son in a prison in Mexico and she's worried about my daughter? I -- I really am committed now to say whatever I can do to help her, because I've got a child who's suffering, she has a child who's suffering. Let's stop the suffering. And anything I can do to do that, I'm going to do it.

And you know, Greta, this is not unusual for me because everybody watching knows, I have been beating the drum about what we need to do for our wounded veterans, those guys who have done the most for us. Sergeant Tahmooressi is one of those guys who did two deployments. He has been diagnosed with PTSD. And I'm not trying to say this in a negative way, but my man is suffering from a mental illness right now.

Now, is it appropriate and compassionate to keep this man in jail because he made a mistake? And part of this is all because of politics. We've got too many faints this way, and too many jabs this way, and too many people being distracted by the issue of a sick American soldier is being held in a foreign prison, and though he may have done something that right now appears to be something that may have broken the law, it was not intentional, in any way, shape, or form.

And I think that's been proven and has been discussed, the information has been provided to the Mexican government. It's been provided to our government, but guess what? We are getting help through the State Department, and the ambassador of the United States is involved, but this is a soldier who right now could use the help of Secretary Kerry. He could use the help of Eric Holder, reaching out to the attorney general in Mexico to say, let's -- look, we're not trying to tell you to change your law. We understand what took place, but your laws itself state unequivocally that there had to be intent. He had to want to do this willfully intend to take weapons into this country.

And it's clear that this was done by mistake. So, come on, this young man's been in jail, in a prison since April 1st. And I get it, there's a lot of stuff going on in the world right now. We have issues that we're dealing with all over this planet. We have to worry about the next set of soldiers that we send into Syria or we send in Iraq, I get it. But if we have one right now that we could save, why not go save him?

VAN SUSTEREN: Montel, love to have you on. Love your passion. Love that you're doing this. And, of course, I do want to thank you for your service, as well. Twenty-two years, you know, and as well in uniform. Montel, thank you very much...

WILLIAMS: It may be uniform -- I will. Let me just say this, the uniform may be off, but I'm wearing this uniform everyday.

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, it's plain. I got that. I know that. Anyway, Montel, thank you, and I hope you come back.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.