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Lawmaker to Obama: 'Get Off Duff,' Help Free Marine in Mexican Jail

Salmon says Obama should use his leverage to help free a veteran being held in a Mexican prison. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Matt Salmon challenged President Barack Obama to get more involved in efforts to free a Marine veteran being held in a Mexican prison on weapons charges.  

"The president has boldly said that he has a pen and a phone," the Arizona Republican said Monday in an appearance on Fox News. "He needs to pick up the gosh-darn phone and do something positive with it to get this young man out.  

"Mr. President, get off your duff and do the right thing. ... Put that phone to good use for once."  

Salmon, who met with Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi over the weekend at a prison in Tijuana, said the 25-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan veteran seems in good spirits. Tahmooressi, who said he mistakenly crossed into Mexico with weapons in his vehicle after taking a wrong turn on April 1, has told his parents and supporters he has been beaten and chained while in the Mexican prison.  

The State Department said Secretary of State John Kerry brought up the case on his recent diplomatic trip to Mexico City.  

“We’ve been very engaged. We’ll continue to press the case,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.  

A petition asking on the White House web site asking the president to demand the veteran's release  has surpassed the 100,000 signatures needed for an official White House response.  

Salmon said he's optimistic about a resolution after speaking with Mexican officials and with the Mexican ambassador to the U.S.  

"I am very hopeful after my conversation with ... Ambassador Eduardo Medina-Mora. He actually was the attorney general before he was the ambassador to the United States, so he understands this process very well." Salmon said. "I made an impassioned plea to him to move this along."