OTR Interviews

For US Marine, freedom from Mexican prison is best Christmas present ever

Jon Hammar and loved ones count blessings after his release from Mexican jail just in time for Christmas


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 26, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: Good evening. I'm Kimberly Guilfoyle, in for Greta Van Susteren. We begin tonight with the harrowing ordeal of U.S. Marine Jon Hammar, Jr. After spending four months in a notorious Mexican jail, often chained to his bed, Hammar was released to his family in time for Christmas.

But his story doesn't stop there. Hammar family attorney Eddie Varon Levy joins us.

OK, so you have been in communication with him. How is he doing?

EDDIE VARON LEVY, HAMMAR FAMILY ATTORNEY: Yes, I have, Kimberly. Thank you very much for having me. He's doing OK. They arrived to Miami to their house sometime late in the evening Monday, tired. They've had a long drive, as you probably know.

They had some tests they had to run in the hospital in Louisiana, but he's holding up. He cannot be standing for a long time. And so he's just kind of taking quality time, I would call it down time, to be with the family and rebuilding and expecting and waiting for some of those tests to come back, see what's the prognosis and whatever they have to heal him [and] how.

GUILFOYLE: Everyone, obviously...

LEVY: And mentally, of course, and emotionally -- and medically, as well.

GUILFOYLE: Well, everyone is overjoyed at his release, of course, in time for Christmas. But as you mentioned, this has been an incredible ordeal for him both physically and emotionally. And of course, you know, for his family, his mother saying that -- you know, she couldn't rest, she couldn't sleep at night, especially until he was then on U.S. soil.

But this took an inordinate amount of time to be able to secure his release. Many Americans are wondering why this took so long. And what's the truth behind why and how he was released?

LEVY: I'm glad you asked me that, Kimberly. It's something very important to point out. First of all, it didn't really take that long, considering the fact there was a trial going. What got him out, it was (INAUDIBLE) that we filed in the middle of the trial. That was just like appeals or writs that were filed with the court to, number one, address the constitutional violations that he had committed against (INAUDIBLE) Mexican constitutional violations, which in our view were very grave.

And number two, to also address an issue the trial judge didn't want to, wasn't addressing, which was really the issue of his innocence because one of the elements of the crime was not there. We pushed, and we also started -- I don't want to call it negotiations -- there were no negotiations -- but talks with the incoming administration before they sat down. And we showed them the case file. We showed them the facts of the case. We showed them other cases. And they were willing to listen, which they did.

And they told me, they said, listen, Eddie, right now, it's in the judicial branch. If it comes back that the judge grants you the ruling we're not going to appeal. So for that, I thanked them because they had the foresight and they had also the wisdom, I believe, to see what I saw through the case.

And also why is it that he wanted to plead guilty? You know, it seems that the trial judge and his clerk were adamant for him to plead guilty to get out. But of course, I never trusted them, you know? And it worked out for the good, thank God.

That's true that happened, but also, the legal work that went in -- we were filing documents just about every other day, Kimberly, let me tell you that.

GUILFOYLE: Well, I know that you were working, you know, diligently on the case, and as an attorney myself, I know what goes into this, especially a criminal matter. Then internationally, it's very complicated. I mean, in your opinion, what do you think was the turning point for the judge to actually release and to make that decision?

LEVY: OK. You know, I spoke to the judge -- and I can say this now. I went to see the judge five days before and I told him, I said, Your honor, with all due respect, I file my first amparo with you, and the constitutional hearing, the trial in the case in that injunction, took place November the 8th. Now we're December -- I think it was December 20, 21st. Now -- no, it was a Tuesday, I believe, December 20th.

I said, We -- you waited more than six, seven weeks. You promised me you'd have a solution here. Now, let me tell you what I'm going to do, just so you know. If you deny me this amparo and you just give me partial relief, which is like replace the procedure and do again, we got a problem, you see, because Ian, who was his translator, wasn't to be found, and so how can you remedy that, right, Kim? You know...


LEVY: ... you can't put back -- you know, once the genie's out of the bottle, you can't. So I said, I am ready and willing to file this case in the supreme court, and I promise you they're going to review it because there were some talks that although the judges there, the justice cannot talk about a case, they had a good eye and they were willing, and I believe he knew it.

I don't know if I convince him, and it turned out later that I guess he checked it out and it turned out that that's what was going to happen.

So having said that, he must have, you know, found -- now, it's interesting because he never responded to my constitutional violations, but that's an option that we're going to decide to do, you know, down the line, just to the element of the crime that was in there, which was the endolo, which means the intent, you know?


LEVY: Let's remember -- let's not lose sight of this, Kim. He went in with a good faith effort because the customs and border protection agent in the U.S. had told him that it was OK. A shotgun in America...


LEVY: ... it's legal, especially the (INAUDIBLE) shotgun. In Mexico, the first thing he did is told a Mexican customs agent, I want to register my shotgun. And (INAUDIBLE) turning him back, OK? I agree that they -- he was already in Mexico, but he turned there, that he just went ahead, and as he was handcuffed and taken in.

GUILFOYLE: Yes. You know, it's just a scary case. I'm sure Americans at home watching this, to think about the fact that you can try and follow a law and respect another country's laws, go by the books, do everything and still be imprisoned in another country for how many months, with you trying to work through the different legal machinations to get him out, tireless efforts.

You know, it's just disturbing on that level. But the outcome is what we are grateful for, Eddie. And thank you for being part of the program.

LEVY: Well, let me tell you, Kimberly -- and I appreciate this. It wasn't only me, to be honest with you, you know? I can just direct these two more points for people. I got Stefan Scheigs, Rober Welbo, my associates in Los Angeles.


LEVY: I got (INAUDIBLE) in Mexico City and down there. It's a team effort. Yes, I was the lead lawyer, but it was great to work with many people. Now, let me tell you -- you said something interesting...

GUILFOYLE: Well, it's good of you to acknowledge them. We don't have much time. We have to wrap, Eddie, by I want to say, yes, obviously, to the team. I know I've been part of those legal teams. You got to work together, especially on international cases.

Again, congratulations on getting this fine American home safe. You're to be commended for the efforts of you and your other legal counsel. Thanks so much.