Photo: via U.S. Marine Corps
U.S. Marine Infantryman Jon Hammar survived Fallujah and Afghanistan only to find himself in chains, strapped to a bed in solitary confinement in a Mexican prison.All over an innocent Aug. 13 trip to Mexico to surf and an absurd law regarding the length of the gun barrel on his antique shotgun.
The parents of Hammar reached out to Tim Johnson of McClatchy Newspapers when American diplomats seemed incapable of helping their son, and they received aggressive calls from the prison from people attempting to extort money.
“They said, ‘I have your son. We need money.’ I said, ‘I’m going to call the (U.S.) consulate.’ They said, ‘The consulate can’t help you.’ Then they put him on the phone. He said, ‘mum, you need to pay them,’ ” Olivia Hammar told Johnson.
Hammar and a friend and fellow Marine Ian McDonough had bought a ’72 Winnebago and headed off to Mexico for a surfing trip. McDonough expressed worry about Hammar’s shotgun, a old trinket Hammar seemed insperable from, but Hammar seemed confident it wouldn’t get them in any trouble.
Olivia described the weapon her son had as a “glorified bb gun.”
“I told him that we probably shouldn’t take the shotgun with us,” McDonough said to McClatchy. “And he said, ‘No, I’m going to get it cleared with customs at the gate.’ So I said, ‘That’s fine. As long as it’s legit.’ “
They were both arrested. Mexican officials said it was because shotgun barrels of that length, that is, shortened, are authorised only for the military.
McDonough was later released, due in part to his living off and on in Argentina, and he walked back home across the border. Hammar has been jailed ever since, and family and Marine friends are incensed he hasn’t yet been released. Though his local congressmen Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has taken up his cause, saying, “I will do my best to help.”
Frustrated that even that won’t be enough there is now a White House petition posted to “Help Bring Hammar Home” which so far has more than 3,400 signatures.
The Obama administration, however, has released no statements regarding the fate of Jon Hammar.
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