Former U.S. Marine released by Mexican authorities
December 21, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A former U.S. Marine was released from a prison in Mexico late Friday, where he had been held without action since August on a questioned gun charge.
The aide to a legal representative of the Mexican attorney general's office told U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson's staff about the pending release Friday morning, after the Senator’s office got word from the former Marine’s mother. A defense lawyer said it was determined there was no intent to commit a crime. Nelson is among a handful of elected officials who had been pressing the Mexican government hard for the former Marine's freedom.
Over the past few months, Nelson and his office worked with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the State Department and Mexican authorities to get 27-year-old Jon Hammar released from the Matamoros, Mexico prison. Hammar and his family live in the Miami area.
"No American should be in a Mexican jail for five months without being able to have his case in front of a judge," said Nelson (D-FL), who, among other things, had made a direct appeal to the Mexican ambassador to the U.S. "We're grateful; this is a good Christmas present."
Hammar’s ordeal began earlier this year when he and a friend took off in a Winnebago for a surfing trip to Costa Rica. According to Hammar’s mother, surfing has been a release for him since he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Upon crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in August, Hammar and a traveling companion were arrested by Mexican authorities for bringing a shotgun, once owned by Hammar’s great-grandfather, into the country. According to his family, Hammar was told by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that he could bring the gun into Mexico if it was registered and a fee was paid.
For months after his arrest there was little action by Mexican officials. But, his story soon captured widespread media attention after Nelson, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and other lawmakers drew attention to the mistreatment he’d received in prison. Hammar was handcuffed to a bed, and his parents say he faced death threats from other inmates.