LONDON/Washington -  WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday accused the CIA of “devastating incompetence” for failing to protect its hacking secrets and said he would work with tech companies to develop fixes for them.

“This is a historic act of devastating incompetence, to have created such an arsenal and then stored it all in one place,” Assange said. “It is impossible to keep effective control of cyber weapons... If you build them, eventually you will lose them,” Assange said.

Assange was speaking in a press conference streamed live from Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he has been living as a fugitive from justice since 2012.

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.

“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.

Commenting on the press conference, Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said Assange “should spend the rest of his life wearing an orange jumpsuit”.

“He’s an enemy of the American people and an ally to (Russian President) Vladimir Putin,” he said in a statement.

US President Donald Trump believes that the CIA’s systems are outdated, the White House said Thursday, after WikiLeaks released a trove of documents linked to the agency’s cyber espionage operations.

“He believes that the systems at the CIA are outdated and need to be updated,” said White House spokesman Sean Spicer, echoing leaker Julian Assange’s criticism of “devastating incompetence” at the spy agency.

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.

“The CIA has been so careless to produce this material. So do various cyber mafia already have it? Do foreign intelligence agencies already have it? It’s quite possible numerous people already might have it,” Assange said.

China on Thursday demanded the US "stop its cyberattacks" after Wikileaks released a trove of documents which they said exposed the CIA's hacking operations.

According to the documents leaked this week, the US spy agency has produced more than 1,000 malware systems - viruses, trojans, and other software that can infiltrate and take control of target electronics.

"We are concerned about the relevant reports. China is opposed to any forms of cyberattacks," China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said. "We urge the US side to stop its wiretapping, video surveillance, espionage and cyberattacks on China and other countries," Geng Shuang told reporters at a regular press conference.

The CIA has publicly accused WikiLeaks of “jeopardizing” the US national security and helping adversaries inflict harm on the United States over the leak of thousands of documents that reveal the agency’s hacking and spying secrets”The American public should be deeply troubled by any WikiLeaks disclosure designed to damage the Intelligence Community’s ability to protect America against terrorists and other adversaries,” the CIA said in a statement.

“Such disclosures not only jeopardize US personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm,” it added.

However, the spy agency said it could not yet confirm the authenticity of the nearly 9,000 secret files obtained and published by WikiLeaks.

The CIA rejected the notion that it spies on the American people, and insisted the agency’s mission is to “aggressively collect foreign intelligence overseas to protect America from terrorists, hostile nation states and other adversaries.”

“It is also important to note that CIA is legally prohibited from conducting electronic surveillance targeting individuals here at home, including our fellow Americans, and CIA does not do so,” the statement read.

The explosive documents exposed by WikiLeaks showed that the CIA sneaks into high-tech phones and televisions to spy on users around the world, including people in the United States.They also revealed that the agency has routinely used techniques that enable its hackers to disguise themselves as hacking groups based in Russia and other countries.US intelligence agencies have launched a criminal investigation into the publication of the secret files, with intelligence and law enforcement officials already pointing the finger at CIA contractors.

WikiLeaks claimed that nearly all of the CIA’s cyber tools have been stolen and are potentially in the hands of foreign spies and former US government hackers and contractors.

The White House said President Donald Trump was “extremely concerned” about the security breach.”Anybody who leaks classified information will be held to the highest degree of law,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Wednesday.

The WikiLeaks dump came amid an ongoing feud between Trump and the US intelligence community over Russia’s alleged efforts to influence the November election in favor of the Republican billionaire.

 

AFP/SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT