Assange accuses CIA of ‘devastating incompetence’ over leaks
LONDON: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday accused the CIA of “devastating incompetence” for keeping hacking secrets in one place and said he would work with tech giants to develop fixes after he leaked them.
“This is a historic act of devastating incompetence, to have created such an arsenal and then stored it all in one place,” Assange told a press conference streamed live from Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he has been living as a fugitive from justice since 2012.
“It is impossible to keep effective control of cyber weapons… If you build them, eventually you will lose them,” Assange said.
He said his anti-secrecy website had “a lot more information” about the Central Intelligence Agency’s hacking operation but would hold off on publishing it until WikiLeaks had spoken to tech manufacturers about fixes.
“We have decided to work with them to give them some exclusive access to the additional technical details we have so fixes can be developed and then pushed out.
“Once this material is effectively disarmed by us we will publish additional details about what has been occurring,” he added.
On Tuesday, WikiLeaks published nearly 9,000 documents it said were part of a huge trove leaked from the CIA, describing it as the largest ever publication of secret intelligence materials.
“This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA,” it said.
The documents showed that CIA hackers can turn a TV into a listening device, bypass popular encryption apps, and possibly control one’s car.
Most experts believe the materials to be genuine, and US media said Wednesday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is opening a criminal probe into the leak.
The source of the materials remained unclear. The investigation could focus on whether the CIA was sloppy in its controls, or, as The Washington Post reported, it could be “a major mole hunt” for a malicious leaker or turncoat inside the agency.
WikiLeaks itself said the documents, hacking tools and code came from an archive that had circulated among US government hackers and private contractors.
An investigation would come as the CIA is already enmeshed in a politically-charged probe into Russia’s alleged interference in the US election last year in support of President Donald Trump’s campaign.
WikiLeaks, which has stunned the US government with a series of publications of top secret political, diplomatic and intelligence materials in recent years, said Tuesday’s leak was only the first of a series of releases of CIA hacking materials.