UPDATE: Some relatively unexpected good news – Hammar will be home for the holidays after all…
Jon Hammar, the U.S. Marine who has been in a Mexican prison since August on a dubious weapon charge is being released today, his father confirmed to FoxNews.com.
Jon Hammar Sr. said during a flight layover in Houston that he was on his way to get his son, after he and his wife Olivia received a call Thursday night from their attorney, Eddie Varon-Levy telling them their son was going to be released.
“I haven’t seen it in writing yet but Eddie has confirmed it with the court that Jon is being released today,” Hammar Sr. said. “The U.S. consulate said they would pick Jon up at the prison and accompany him to the border crossing.”
Hammar’s family and legal team were headed to the border town of Brownsville, Texas, where they hope to have a joyful reunion sometime today. Hammar, 27, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been stuck in a notorious, drug cartel-controlled prison just 15 miles south of the U.S. border since Aug. 13, after he crossed into Mexico and declared an antique shotgun to Mexican customs officials that was deemed illegal.
“The court ruled on the motion that excluded the evidence on the charge because of a violation of his constitutional rights under Mexican law which resulted in the charge being dropped,” Hammar Sr. said.
The Marine’s father said he is excited and scared, but won’t rest until his son is on the U.S. side of the border. He said the two planned to bond on the the trip home to Palmetto Bay, Fla., which Hammar Sr. said would be made by car.
Guess the boycott can go on ice after all. But this practice of nabbing American tourists in places like Matamoros, Juarez and Tijuana for the purpose of extorting money from their families needs to stop. It’s been going on far too long.
ORIGINAL POST: In the matter of the Marine who has been held in Matamoros, Mexico for the past four months for the “crime” of attempting to carry an antique shotgun through the country on the way to a vacation in Costa Rica, there might actually be some progress in securing his release.
The Jon Hammar case is rapidly becoming a major bone of contention with the American people since it started generating publicity earlier this month. Fox News TV host Bill O’Reilly is threatening to crank up a national boycott of Mexican tourism and other trade, and Facebook and other social media are crackling with outrage from Hammar’s countrymen. The complete perceived inaction by the U.S. federal government, from the White House to the State Department, in pursuing Hammar’s release has only poured gasoline on the issue with the public.
Steve Newton, president of Silver Star Families Of America, sent the following letter to Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto earlier this week…
The Honorable Lic. Enrique Peña Nieto President of the United Mexican States In care of: U.S. Embassy and the Mexican Consulate
I would like to bring to your attention the mission of the Silver Star Families of America: to remember, honor and assist the wounded, ill, injured and dying of the American Armed Forces from all wars. We are an organization of thousands of members who respect the sacrifice of those who have stood for freedom. Intergral to our mission is the welfare and well-being of Jon Hammar, a United States Marine Corp veteran has been arrested and is presently incarcerated in CERESO de Matamoros. Mr. Hammar suffers from post traumatic stress, a psychological and emotion illness caused by prolonged exposure to violence. Mr. Hammar was a soldier in Afghanistan and Iraq, and should be receiving therapy for his wounds, which is likely to become worse under the stress of his incarceration.
We have no wish to interfere with the Mexican judicial system, nor with any official negotiations between governments, but we would like to request that for humanitarian reasons, the honorable President Enrique Peña Nieto will consider using your considerable influence and power to prevail upon the Public Ministers to consider Mr. Hammar’s condition and intention, reducing the charges to those that would allow him to leave prison and return to his own country. The Silver Star Families of America is willing to pay whatever fines are assessed by the court. Our respect for the sovereignty of the Mexican state is absolute and our only concern is for Mr. Hammar’s well-being.
If charges cannot be dropped or reduced to the minimum, we would ask that you consider having the criminal matter expedited, and grant Mr. Hammar amnesty as you are empowered to do in Article 89, XIV of the Political Constitution of the Mexican United States, or you request that the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Republic grant amnesty to Mr. Hammar under the powers granted the Legislature in Article 73, XIII.
Again, our only concern is to assume that Mr. Hammar receives the help he desperately needs. Our respect for the sovereignty of the Mexican state is absolute and our only wish is for an honorable settlement of this situation. A misunderstanding of Mexican customs regulations should not deprive a young wounded warrior of years of his life.
I appeal to you as a father and a Christian. Please let the good hearts of the Mexican people prevail and provide justice tempered with mercy. You know and I know this child should not suffer anymore than he already has.
I stand with you in justice and compassion,
Steve Newton CEO Silver Star Families of America
Newton reports, via Free Republic, that his efforts are being at least recognized by the Mexican government…
CEO of the SSFOA Steve Newton, stated: “We have contacted the Mexican Embassy in Washington and every Mexican consulate in the United States. (See bottom of page) We have also contacted the U.S. State Department and our Embassy in Mexico City. To be honest our State Department has been somewhat slow and—unhelpful. We finally made a solid contact with our Consulate office in Matamoros who gives us up to- date information on Hammar’s condition and provided us an address to send him reading materials so we have made progress.”
“While some are engaged in big media events, the SSFOA has been working quietly with both U.S. and Mexican officials,” Newton continued. “It is probably a good thing the plight of Mr. Hammar has gotten out to the public because it might draw the attention of those in the government that can help. We have also been passing on information to the family through the office of Hammar’s Representative, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.”
“It is not our job to determine blame for the situation and we feel that any solution will be a compromise between Mexico and the United States and the people of both Nations. Our main concern is making sure Hammar is well treated, safe, and is at least fairly comfortable while we work to free him. We firmly believe that he will be released on January 17th, at his next court appearance. If that does not happen we will have to –reevaluate the situation and take other action. And we are doing a few things we can’t talk about at present.”
“We learned today our letter to the President of Mexico has finally been delivered. (Letter in full below) We will build on that and we will not rest until Hammar is home.”
Time is running out for Hammar to be reunited with his family before Christmas, and at this point it doesn’t appear that’s in the cards.
But this has been a shameful episode which has exposed the Mexican government for its corruption – O’Reilly has publicly stated what has been known widely about this and many other similar cases; namely, that crooked Mexican officials will all too commonly jail Americans on trumped-up charges for the purpose of extorting money from their families, and that is what has happened here – and has also similarly exposed the Obama administration for its complete disinterest in intervening on behalf of the Americans it is charged with defending, and particularly American military veterans.
And without being able to rely on our government to do the right thing and use its influence on behalf of our citizens who need it, the Hammar case shows that it will have to be the American people, in disregard of our government, who drive the response to episode like it.