Benghazi whistleblower Gregory Hicks said he continues to be punished by the State Department for speaking out about the events of that deadly night almost a year ago in Libya.
In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos Sunday, Hicks discussed the consequences he faced for speaking out and said, “I don’t know why I was shunted aside, put in a closet, if you will.”
However, the State Department denied accusations that Hicks was “punished” for blowing the whistle, the report said.
State Department spokesman Alec Gerlach issued the following statement to ABC News:
The State Department has not punished Mr. Hicks in any way. We appreciate his exemplary service on the evening of September 11 and his long career as a member of the Foreign Service.
Although the State Department ordinarily does not discuss the details of personnel matters publicly, because he has alleged mistreatment, we will state generally that the circumstances that led to his departure from Libya was entirely unrelated to any statements he may have made relating to the attack in Benghazi. When Mr. Hicks voluntarily curtailed his assignment, he was in the position of finding another assignment in between standard assignment cycles. The Department made significant efforts to find him a new position at his level, including identifying an overseas position which he declined and succeeded in finding him a short-tour assignment in the Office of the Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, pending the next assignment cycle. We continue to value his service and are working with him through the normal personnel process and assignment timetable to identify his next permanent assignment.
The State Department is deeply committed to meeting its obligation to protect employees and the State Department does not tolerate or sanction retaliation against whistleblowers on ANY ISSUE, including Benghazi.
Hicks recalled to Stephanopoulos how he learned the news that Ambassador Chris Stevens had been killed in Benghazi, saying it was the “saddest moment in his career.”
Hicks, who was second in charge – the Deputy Chief of Mission – in Libya last September, said he was informed of Stevens death by the Libyan prime minister.
“He just says, ‘I’m very sorry, Greg, to tell you this, but our friend Chris has passed on.’ I think those were his words. There was deep remorse in his voice when he said it,” Hicks told Stephanopoulos.
As the one-year anniversary of the brutal terrorist attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on 9/11 approaches this week, Hicks asked that we never forget the four dead Americans – Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Ty Woods and Glen Doherty:
We can’t forget them, and we need to make sure that those people who are going out…into the world on our behalf have the tools that they need and the resources they need to do the job that they’ve been asked to do for the people of the United States.