EXCLUSIVE: American arms dealer Marc Turi, in his first television interview since criminal charges against him were dropped, told Fox News that the Obama administration -- with the cooperation of Hillary Clinton’s State Department -- tried and failed to make him the scapegoat for a 2011 covert weapons program to arm Libyan rebels that spun out of control.
“I would say, 100 percent, I was victimized…to somehow discredit me, to throw me under the bus, to do whatever it took to protect their next presidential candidate,” he told Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge.
The 48-year-old Arizona resident has been at the epicenter of a failed federal investigation led by the Justice Department spanning five years and costing the government an estimated $10 million or more, Turi says.
Turi says the Justice Department abruptly dropped the case to avoid public disclosure of the weapons program, that was designed to force the ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi during the 2011 Arab Spring.
"Those transcripts from current as well as former CIA officers were classified," Turi said of the evidence. "If any of these relationships [had] been revealed it would have opened up a can of worms. There wouldn't have been any good answer for the U.S. government especially in this election year." The Justice Department faced a deadline last week to produce records to the defense.
Turi says he was specifically “targeted by the Obama administration “and “lost everything--my family, my friends, my business, my reputation.”
As Fox News has reported extensively, in 2011, the Obama administration with support from some Republican and Democratic lawmakers explored options to arm the so-called “Libyan rebels” during the chaotic Arab Spring but United Nations sanctions prohibited direct sales.
Turi's plan was to have the U.S. government supply conventional weapons to the Gulf nations Qatar and UAE, which would then in turn supply them to Libya. But Turi says he never sold any weapons, and he was cut out of the plan. Working with CIA, Turi said Clinton's State Department had the lead and used its own people, with weapons flowing to Libya and Syria.
"Some (weapons) may have went out under control that we had with our personnel over there and the others went to these militia. That's how they lost control over it," Turi said. "I can assure you that these operations did take place and those weapons did go in different directions."
Asked by Fox News who got the weapons -- Al Qaeda, Ansar al-Sharia, or ISIS -- Turi said: "All of them, all of them, all of them."
Turi exchanged emails in 2011 with then U.S. envoy to the Libyan opposition Chris Stevens. A day after the exchange about Turi's State Department application to sell weapons, Clinton wrote on April 8, 2011 to aide Jake Sullivan, "fyi. the idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition should be considered."
Asked if the email exchanges are connected or a coincidence, Turi said, "When you look at this timeline, none of it was a coincidence. It was all strategically managed and it had to come from her own internal circle."
Turi also told Fox News that he believes emails sent about the weapons programs were deleted by Hillary Clinton and her team because that “it would have gone to an organization within the Bureau of Political Military affairs within the State Department known as PM/RSAT (Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers.) That’s where you would find Jake Sullivan, Andrew Shapiro and a number of political operatives that would have been intimately involved with this foreign policy."
The four felony counts -- which included two of arms dealing in violation of the Arms Export Control Act and two of lying on his State Department weapons application -- were dismissed last week against Turi “with prejudice,” meaning the government cannot come after him again on this matter.
The Justice Department decision, weeks before the election, coupled with the now public emails, cast a new light on Clinton's 2013 Benghazi testimony where she was asked about the movement of weapons by Sen. Rand Paul.
Paul: Were any of these weapons transferred to other countries. Any countries. Turkey included?
Clinton: Well, senator you'll have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex and I will see what information is available.
Paul: You're saying you don't know?
Clinton: I don't know.
Turi first told his story to Fox News senior executive producer Pamela Browne in 2014, and since, Turi says he's lost everything to fight the Justice Department, which had no further comment beyond the publicly available court records.
"With all the resources that they were throwing at me, I knew there would have to be some type of explanation of the operation that was going terribly wrong in Libya," Turi said. "It is completely un-American...I was a contractor for the Central Intelligence Agency."
Turi said he is grateful the case is over. "It really is ungodly, and unjust and unconscionable, that the entire force of the United States government came after me for a simple application. I was working for the U.S. government."
Turi added, "I never shipped anything. I never even received the contract. So all I received was an approval for $534 million to support our interests overseas. And it would have been the United States government that facilitated that operation from Qatar and UAE by way of allowing those countries to land their planes and land their ships in Libya."
Close friend and Turi adviser Robert Stryk described Turi this way to Fox News in a statement:
“Marc Turi is a true patriot who served his country in the fight against Islamofascist terrorists in the Middle East. His fraudulent prosecution by Hillary Clinton’s associates in the Justice Department is deplorable as is the fate of the American heroes murdered in Benghazi. Our most loyal citizens deserve better."
And Turi hinted there is more to emerge on the 2012 Benghazi attacks which killed four Americans including Stevens.
"Now there’s a flip side to this. Some of the operations that I was involved in, in another country for the agency has a linkage and there’s a backstory to the actual buy-back program of the surface to air missiles that were shipped and mysteriously disappeared out of Benghazi," Turi said. "So we can save that for another time, but the reality is a lot of this could have exposed a number of covert operations that I don’t think the American public would really want to know at this point in time.”
Fox News asked the State Department about Turi’s allegations, and whether no weapons reached extremists groups on Clinton’s watch. A spokesperson said they would check.
Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.
Pamela K. Browne is Senior Executive Producer at the FOX News Channel (FNC) and is Director of Long-Form Series and Specials. Her journalism has been recognized with several awards. Browne first joined FOX in 1997 to launch the news magazine “Fox Files” and later, “War Stories.”