MIAMI - Jon Hammar, a veteran U.S. Marine currently jailed in Mexico, will soon be released, according to the U.S. State Dept.
"Our local hero will be freed today from a Mexican prison where he's been there chained to his bed and terrible conditions since August for a trumped up gun charge that should have never been leveled against him because he wanted to register the firearm in Mexico, he wanted to comply with the law, but John's mom Olivia called us early today to say amen and halleluiah and prayers work and hard work pays off," said U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Hammar's father flew to Texas and was waiting for his son's release on Friday evening.
Hammar planned a road trip to Costa Rica with another Marine over the summer. That plan came to a halt at the border in Brownsville, where Hammar was stopped because he had his great grandfather's shotgun.
For months after his arrest, there was little action by Mexican officials. But the story soon captured widespread media attention after 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.
Last Thursday, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Hammar's parents pleaded for help in securing his release.
A defense lawyer said it was determined there was no intent to commit a crime.
A U.S. Consulate official said they are standing by to escort Hammar safely back to the United States as soon as they received official word of a release.
Because of Hammar's post-tramatic stress disorder, the family will not release the details of their flight home. But Ros-Lehtinen says she is working out a time after the holidays when Hammar and his family will speak about his ordeal.
"No American should be in a Mexican jail for five months without being able to have his case in front of a judge," said Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. "We're grateful; this is a good Christmas present."
"Our South Florida community is simply overjoyed to hear the news that our young American Patriot and my Palmetto Bay constituent, Jon Hammar, is scheduled to be released from a Mexican prison sometime today December 21, just in time to be reunited with his family for Christmas," said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Lynda Bell. "I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the Chair of the U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for her steadfast leadership and sheer tenacity in putting strong pressure on our State Department, the Mexican government and her fellow colleagues in the House to release U.S. Marine Jon Hammar from a prolonged and unjust incarceration. Our profound gratitude also goes out to United States Senator, Bill Nelson, for his dedicated and significant work among his colleagues in the upper House of Congress, in a true, bi-partisan effort to finally get an American hero home!"
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