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White House says doesn't know 'facts' on jailed ex-Marine, State later confirms intervention

The case of retired Marine Jon Hammar, who is locked up in a notorious Mexican prison on what his family says is a trumped-up weapons charge, has been all over the airwaves as his parents appeal for help. 

But asked Tuesday what the administration was doing to review the case, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had a surprising answer: "I don't know the facts myself on that." 

The Obama administration, though, was able to provide a response via the State Department shortly afterward -- showing that U.S. officials are in fact involved in working with the Mexican government. 

A State Department official told Fox News that U.S. diplomatic officials in Mexico have been providing "consular services" since they were notified on Aug. 16 of his arrest. 

"Since the arrest, we have been in frequent contact with Mr. Hammar, as well as with his family in the United States," the official said, adding that consular officials have visited Hammar four times. They also spoke with him by phone as recently as Tuesday.

Hammar's parents dispute how helpful the State Department has been. 

Father Jon Hammer told Fox News that what the family heard from the department has been "discouraging." 

"They've told us they can't do anything," he said. 

"Repeatedly," his mother Olivia Hammar added. 

The State Department did not specifically say it was pressing for his release. But the official said consular officials arranged to have Hammar moved away from the general prison population after he was threatened by other inmates. And the official said prison authorities agreed to stop using physical restraints -- Hammar had been chained to a bed -- after the U.S. complained. 

"We will continue to monitor Mr. Hammar's safety and well-being throughout his detention, and continue to work with Mexican authorities to address any concerns regarding the progress of his case and treatment," the official said. 

Hammar has been in the notorious CEDES prison in Matamoros, Mexico, for four months. During the ordeal, Hammar has faced death threats from the cartel gangsters that control the prison and been chained to his metal bunk. 

Despite his attempts to declare a .410 gauge antique Sears Roebuck shotgun at Mexico's border with Brownsville, Texas, Hammar was charged with possessing a gun used by the Mexican military, an aggravated felony punishable up to 15 years in prison.