Jon Hammar, the former Marine from Palmetto Bay who had been detained at a Mexican prison since August, has been freed.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the family's congresswoman, relayed the news late Friday night. Hammar's mother, Olivia, also issued a statement to the press about her son's release.
"The only expression that captures how we feel today is that 'our cup runneth over,'" the family said. It thanked Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Sens. Bill Nelson (a Democrat) and Marco Rubio (a Republican), and Rep. Mike Thompson, a California Democrat, for assisting in Hammar's case. Thompson represents the California district where Hammar, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, spent some time in a residential facility for veterans, being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.
In her own statement, Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican, thanked "the American people" and her congressional colleagues for pushing for Hammar's release. "I am overcome with joy knowing that Jon will be spending Christmas with his parents, family and friends," she said.
Read their full statements after the jump.
Psalm 118: 5-6
Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
“The only expression that captures how we feel today is that “our cup runneth over.” Our precious boy will be released at some point today after a judge ruled in favor of our Amparo, a form of constitutional relief found in the Mexican legal system, late last night. While we will not be holding a press conference as we try and provide the gentlest means of re-entry for Jonny and safe travel for him back to Miami, we do want to recognize everyone who has played a role in securing his release. First, as Christians we are praising God, who has held all of us in the palm of His hand throughout this entire ordeal. As horrific as this has been, we know in our hearts that God can redeem this and use it in all of our lives for His good purposes. This Christmas we will celebrate the birth of Christ as never before.
To Congresswoman Ileana Ros- Lehtinen, Senator Bill Nelson, Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Mike Thompson, as well as their staff, you have worked tirelessly and fearlessly in your efforts to bring Jonny home. We can never repay you. To our friends and family, who have propped us up on every leaning side: God bless you for your love toward us and our boy. And to people throughout this country who have championed our fight for justice, we have never been more proud to be Americans. To the Marines and soldiers who prayed for us and repeatedly offered to physically go and get him out at any cost, this country is what it is today because of your courage and commitment. And finally to the press, you have probably played the most vital role in his release. Thank you for pursuing truth at all costs.
We will spend this holiday bathed in gratitude to all of you. We will not be doing any interviews until after the holidays. We hope your understand and respect our need for privacy at this time.
God Bless and Merry Christmas"
“This is a great day for the Hammar family. I have spoken with the family, and can confirm that Jon has been released from Matamoros prison and is back safely in the United States. These past few months have been an absolute nightmare for Jon and his family, and I am so relieved that this whole ordeal will soon be over. I am overcome with joy knowing that Jon will be spending Christmas with his parents, family and friends.
I want to thank my colleagues in Congress, and the American people, who have shown unwavering support for Jon and his family in their time of need, and who have been so instrumental in making this happen. This could not have been accomplished without their relentless advocacy for Jon. I believe in the power of prayer and I thank all who prayed for Jon's safety and release.
The family has asked that they be given their privacy and I ask that their wishes be respected.”