'The Factor' talks to Jon Hammar's father

The father of former Marine who was imprisoned in Mexico gives an update on his son's health


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 04, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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No "Talking Points Memo" this evening because we have a very disturbing situation on our hands. We were supposed to have former Marine Corporal Jon Hammar on the program tonight. But at the last minute -- at the last minute he simply could not do the interview.

As you may know the Corporal has been through a very terrible ordeal returning from Iraq an Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder. Then last August he was imprisoned in Mexico on bogus gun charges after trying to register a shotgun with border authorities in Matamoros.

The State Department couldn't get him out of prison. President Obama took no notice. Well we got involved and four days before Christmas the Mexican government finally released Jon Hammar. But then he hospitalized in the USA. His doctor telling us last night that his physical condition was awful. Well today things became chaotic.

Joining us now from Miami is his father, Jon Hammar, Sr. First of all Mr. Hammar I think I speak for all Americans when I say, we're very sorry for the ordeal of your family is experiencing. And we'll do all we can here to help you.

And Jon was supposed to talk with me tonight. What happened?

JON HAMMAR, SR., FATHER OF FORMER MARINE JON HAMMAR: Well we were going along pretty good the last couple of days doing interviews over the phone to thank people for all that they had done to help get him out. And I think probably after a couple days of that this afternoon, he took off to get some -- some clothes and run some errands and when he came back, he -- I think the pressure got him a bit. And he is not doing real great right now.

Physically -- physically great, but mentally I think we're going to have to take a break for a second.

O'REILLY: Ok is he apprehensive? Is it -- is it painful for him to talk about what happened to him in Mexico?

HAMMAR: Well, he is definitely apprehensive. I mean we've gone over with him and he's gone over with some friends he trusts about what's appropriate for him to say publicly. And, you know, it's a scary situation. He doesn't want to bring any danger onto his family or himself in the future. And you know it's a tough situation down there because you are dealing with quasi-authoritative people. And you are dealing with the Mexican authorities and so you're not sure who you're really dealing with.

O'REILLY: Well, I understand he was threatened in prison. He said that himself to the McClatchy News Services that he was threatened with decapitation by fellow prisoners.


O'REILLY: That's -- that's true, right?


O'REILLY: Ok and also the prison down in Matamoros is infested with the Los Zetas who are a drug dealing gang who kill people with impunity. I mean they just murder people. So this is the apprehension. That he doesn't want to say too much about that because he fears reprisals from south of the border?

HAMMAR: Well there is always that chance. And -- and you know there were comments as he was leaving indicating to that. But you know I think he wants to get -- you know, he wants to thank you and he wants to thank the American public, you know, for helping him get out but he wants to do it in a way that makes sense for him.

O'REILLY: Ok and certainly we understand that, but we are concerned because he had to go to a post-traumatic stress disorder place in Napa, California.

HAMMAR: Right. Napa Valley.

O'REILLY: Yes and he's fragile. I mean look anybody would be. He's a tough Marine but anybody incarcerated for four months in a Mexican dump with gangsters all over the place. And would be so we understand perfectly. He doesn't ever have to talk to me Mr. Hammar, you know. If he wants to and he's ready, whenever he's ready we're here for him. But we wanted to try to get the story out to the American public.


O'REILLY: So let's pick it's up you going down to get your son. When he came over the border Mexican authorities brought him over the border handed him off to U.S. authorities after this big campaign that we went on.

HAMMAR: Right.

O'REILLY: They finally did the right thing a couple of days before Christmas, a few before Christmas. What was the first thing -- your first impression when you saw your son coming at you?

HAMMAR: You know physically it was a shock because he was hunched over, you know, underneath a blanket in the back of this armored suburban that the U.S. consulate have done a great job of getting him you know to me in a secure area.

O'REILLY: You drove then to Miami. Why didn't you just hop on a plane and fly to Florida. Why did you drive?

HAMMAR: Well you know at first, I thought, you know I wanted some time with him to figure out what he needed. But then it became really clear that you know what he needed was physical at that point. He was so sick, that you know stomach illness and lungs that you know we didn't -- we made it to Lafayette before we had to go to emergency room.

O'REILLY: Yes to the hospital. Now for those who didn't see the Doctor Villanueva's interview with me last night. The doctor is treating Mr. Hammar's son. He was severely dehydrated. He was vomiting and had diarrhea. All of this contracted inside the Mexican prison. And the doctor said last night -- did you see the interview Mr. Hammar last night on THE FACTOR?

HAMMAR: Yes, I did.


O'REILLY: Ok I mean, he basically said we were lucky to get him out then. That that if this had gone on much longer in the Mexican prison he might have been dead.

HAMMAR: Yes. I didn't -- we didn't realize, you know and this just came on within the first -- the last few days before we got him out.

O'REILLY: Right.

HAMMAR: So you know yes but I didn't -- we didn't realize how bad off he was.

O'REILLY: Did he say anything to you. I know he had severe headaches and he had diarrhea and he was dehydrated and you had to go to the Lafayette, Louisiana Hospital, but did he tell you what happened to him in prison in the tried to Florida?

HAMMAR: Yes. We -- we talked about -- we talked about it. You know there are -- but you know we had been talking, you know, throughout the ordeal so there were a few details that I was not aware of, but in general it was pretty, you know, consistent with what I knew already.

O'REILLY: Would say that that his treatment down there was brutal. Was it -- how would you describe it? Because most Americans have no idea what goes on.

HAMMAR: Yes well, I think it's hard to understand it because the facilities are not -- we would not consider them an actual prison. You know I -- it's more of a facility to house the cartel as they do their business.

O'REILLY: Right so it's not a regulated prison. It's just that these gangsters are there. And they are put in there by the government but they can run wild and do whatever they want inside the prison. So there is danger there. There is danger and that's a psychological thing.

But the doctor did tell me that he didn't have enough food, he didn't have enough water. His body was covered with mosquito bites. I mean obviously he was chained to his bed at one point; everybody had seen that picture. Obviously this wasn't anything that could have ever happened in the United States.

HAMMAR: No. It's not something that you really can fathom, you know, as a legitimate you know way of confining someone.

O'REILLY: How would you describe your son's state of mind now? Outside of the media I know we understand that you know it's got to be very, very tough to talk about any of this. But is he under control? I mean, do you think that he has to go back maybe to the facility in Napa, does he need anything?

HAMMAR: I think he needs time mostly. He -- he -- until this afternoon, you know it's very tenuous but you know feeling for me anyway. But you know, he seems pretty normal considering where he had been. And I think we're getting better, but it is tenuous.

O'REILLY: Ok has the State Department contacted you, anybody from the U.S. government contacted you?

HAMMAR: No, no, not like that other than Ros-Lehtinen's office and his friends that were involved you know on our side here.


O'REILLY: And the Congresswoman has done a great job and I know she is legitimately concerned as is Senator Nelson. But you know it's kind of shocking to me that the State Department number one, couldn't get him out. And number two hasn't even called you and said you know how he is doing, can we do anything for you.

We just don't want to throw Americans away you know what I'm talking about here? And the only reason the Mexicans let him out in the first place is because I told them if they didn't there was going to real trouble economically down there for them. And then finally Nieto the new President got the message and told these guys to let him out and bang he's out. It's a corrupt situation.

HAMMAR: And they told me that.

O'REILLY: What did they tell?

HAMMAR: And they told me that.

O'REILLY: What exactly did they tell you?

HAMMAR: Well the chamber of commerce president in Matamoros came to me -- you know we waited you know probably half a day out there you know for them to process him out. and he came to me and said Jon, you know -- this is wrong. And you know we're going to do something about this. And - - and you know we're sorry you had to go through the press to get this done but you're getting your son back today. And we're sorry that it had got this far.

O'REILLY: So you think the chamber of commerce Mexican in Matamoros as sincere?

HAMMAR: No, I think he was sincere. I -- you know don't know how much legitimately he can do.

O'REILLY: Yes he probably can't do anything. But as soon as the big shots in Mexico City realized they were going to be punished by the American people and that's what would have happened all right. I mean, there were already cancellations for people traveling down there. Then they said, we better get this guy out which shows you the hollowness of the whole fabricated charge in the first place.

The judge we look at finally and he didn't even see a judge. I mean, it took him more than four months just to get him in front of a judge. The judge look at him and said you didn't commit a crime. And he didn't, you know he legitimately tried to register the antique shotgun.

And that brings me to my last question. Why did he try take the gun, and actually a lot of people are asking me now why bother taking a gun into Mexico when you know it's an out of control country looking to hurt Americans and extort money from Americans?

HAMMAR: You know honestly I think it was a little naive but he thought that you know he could figure out how to legitimately cross Mexico with his camping gear and his surf boards and that gun as part of his camping gear you know and get to the West Coast you know. And he wasn't able to navigate that.

O'REILLY: Did he want the gun for protection? Or what was -- why did he need the gun at all?

HAMMAR: I think they were trying to get off the grid into a wilderness area. And they were thinking, if we decide we want to hunt for something or we're going to camp out, you know that this would just be part of the adventure.

O'REILLY: I got it. All right, Mr. Hammar please keep us posted anything we can do for Jon let us know. And we wish you the best. And we appreciate you coming on tonight. I know it was difficult day for you and your family.

HAMMAR: Thank you so much Bill.

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