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'Factor' exclusive: Jon Hammar's journey to freedom

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 15, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET!

O'REILLY: The "Personal Story" segment tonight. As you may know, we were very involved in covering the story of former Marine Corporal John Hammar, unjustly imprisoned in Mexico.

Corporal Hammar spent more than four months in a filthy Matamoros jail. He was even chained to his bed for a short time.

Shortly before Christmas, Mexican authorities released him under heavy pressure from the FACTOR and other media. Joining us now from Miami in a FACTOR exclusive is Corporal Hammar.

First of all, how are you feeling, Corporal.

JON HAMMAR, FORMER MARINE CORPORAL IMPRISONED IN MEXICO: I'm feeling a lot better.

O'REILLY: When you first got out of prison though and you walked across to the U.S., your doctor who was on the program told me that you were really in bad shape. Did you know you were so physically rundown.

HAMMAR: Well I had -- I was dehydrated and malnourished. I had a lung infection, stomach issues, a number of things.

O'REILLY: What caused all of that.

HAMMAR: I think it was just in a bad environment. You know, I lasted, the majority of the time, without getting sick but up until the end is when I started getting a little ill.

O'REILLY: Let's pick it up when your ordeal began. You drive down with a friend to Brownsville, Texas. You check in with the U.S. authorities. What do you tell the U.S. people.

HAMMAR: We told them we've got this hunting shotgun and we are trying to go through Mexico legally. What do we have to do.

They gave us some paperwork to fill out, said, "You know, if you declare it with this paperwork, you should be fine." We paid a fee, we crossed the border and declared the weapon.

And then that's where -- a short while after that, that's where things started going wrong.

O'REILLY: So, you go voluntarily to the Mexican side, you show them the paperwork and then they immediately do what to you.

HAMMAR: It took them a while to talk to their superiors, to figure out what they were going to do. But once the certain superior that made the decision that I was going to go to jail came through, they started doing the paperwork.

They didn't let us know that we were going to jail though. They made it sound like we were just going to go to a place and pay a fee.

So, they took us downtown. We stayed there for four days. My friend got out. I stayed in and then, eventually, I ended up in prison.

O'REILLY: What happened when you walked into the prison.

HAMMAR: Initially, there's some pressure put on me. They tried to extort money from the family. But the American Consulate was contacted.

And they moved me out of the general population and put me into a -- like a -- you know, a single place by myself.

O'REILLY: How would they try to extort money from you.

HAMMAR: They call your family. They throw threats at you and your family and tell you, you know, that "We need your money."

O'REILLY: So they threatened you with violence.

HAMMAR: Yes, there was threats on my life when I initially got in there.

O'REILLY: How did you handle that.

HAMMAR: I think I did all right because I'm alive right now.

O'REILLY: Did you fight.

HAMMAR: There's not much of a fight. It was -- there was a little bit of, you know, -- they roughed me up a little bit but it was quickly resolved and we went back to talking.

O'REILLY: What was the fear factor as far as you were concerned. Were you afraid for your life in there. Were you fearful.

HAMMAR: I mean, there's definitely a time in there where, you know, I had to keep that in mind but I wouldn't really concentrate on that because I didn't want that to make me have any mistakes or anything like that.

O'REILLY: How did you pass the time.

HAMMAR: I read "The Last Stand of Fox Company." It's about the Marine Corps in North Korea. And I also read the Bible. I read the whole Old Testament and almost all the New Testament.

O'REILLY: When you were in there, were you aware that this program and other media were trying to get you out.

HAMMAR: Not until late in the game. Really not until, maybe, the last month did I realize that there was actual media coverage.

O'REILLY: Were you frustrated.

HAMMAR: I was frustrated with every -- with all of the different authorities. I didn't feel that anything really worked out in my favor.

But, in the end, you know, I did get out, and it worked out without any one getting hurt.

O'REILLY: It must have been very difficult for you to talk to your parents.

You had some phone conversations with them. Thanks to the U.S. Consulate down there. It must have been difficult to talk to your mom and stuff, right.

HAMMAR: Yes, it was difficult, you know, because the court in Mexico was telling me one thing, and then they were getting other information.

We were going back and forth, trying to figure out what was going on. So, yes, that was difficult.

O'REILLY: Yes, there were some people who wanted to give you 12 years for this little deal. That was what was staring you in the face, right, 12 years.

HAMMAR: Yes. They were thinking about 12 years.

O'REILLY: Do you have any bitterness toward the Mexicans.

HAMMAR: No, I don't. I think Mexico is great place. I really wish, you know, like everywhere, could kind of get its act together.

O'REILLY: All right. Anything we can do, let us know. And we appreciate you talking to us tonight.

HAMMAR: And, Bill, I really -- I'd like to thank you for everything you've done for me in this situation. I'd also like to thank Ileana Ros- Lehtinen, Bill Nelson, and all of the Congress people.

O'REILLY: OK, Corporal. It's a pleasure for us to do it. You're a patriot and we wish you all the best.

HAMMAR: Thanks.

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O'Reilly Factor, hosted by Bill O'Reilly, airs on Weekdays at 8PM ET on Fox News Channel.

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