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Ros-Lehtinen: John Hammar, U.S. Marine Vet from Miami, Freed from Mexican Jail

December 21, 2012 - 6:00pm

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R- Miami, has announced that 27-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jon Hammar of Miami has been released from a Mexican jail, where he had been held since August on a questionable gun charge, and back on U.S. soil.

This is a great day for the Hammar family. I have spoken with the family, and can confirm that Jon has been released from Matamoros prison and is back safely in the United States, Ros-Lehtinen stated.

These past few months have been an absolute nightmare for Jon and his family, and I am so relieved that this whole ordeal will soon be over. I am overcome with joy knowing that Jon will be spending Christmas with his parents, family and friends.

Ros-Lehtinen, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, and others have publicly pushed for the U.S. to increase efforts to secure Hammars release in the past couple of weeks.

Hammar, who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and was threatened with up to 15 years in prison, had been traveling with a friend in a Winnebago to Costa Rica when he asked U.S. Customs and Border Control in Brownsville, Texas, about a .410 bore old-fashioned Sears & Roebuck shotgun that he inherited from his great-grandfather.

When Hammar reportedly presented registration papers for the gun to Mexican authorities, he was arrested and charged with possession of an assault rifle.Hammars mother in South Florida, Olivia Hammar, claimed the family received extortion threats.

I want to thank my colleagues in Congress, and the American people, who have shown unwavering support for Jon and his family in their time of need, and who have been so instrumental in making this happen, Ros-Lehtinen stated. This could not have been accomplished without their relentless advocacy for Jon. I believe in the power of prayer and I thank all who prayed for Jon's safety and release.

The family has asked that they be given their privacy and I ask that their wishes be respected.

Ros-Lehtinens announcement followed a statement earlier on Saturday from Nelson that the release was pending and that a U.S. Consulate official was standing by to escort the former Marine safely back to the United States.

"No American should be in a Mexican jail for five months without being able to have his case in front of a judge," Nelson stated in a release. "We're grateful; this is a good Christmas present."

Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889.

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