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CIA says WikiLeaks disclosures help US adversaries

Wikileaks dumped 9,000 documents showing CIA hackers can turn TVs into listening devices
Most experts believe materials published by WikiLeaks to be genuine (Reuters)

The Central Intelligence Agency on Wednesday accused WikiLeaks of endangering Americans, helping US rivals and hampering Washington's fight against terror threats by releasing what the anti-secrecy site claimed was a trove of CIA hacking tools.

A CIA spokeswoman would not confirm the authenticity of the 9,000 documents published a day earlier by WikiLeaks, which said they were leaked from the spy agency's hacking operations.

"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," said CIA spokeswoman Heather Fritz Horniak.

"Such disclosures not only jeopardise US personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm," she said.

Horniak defended the CIA's cyber operations, which the WikiLeaks materials focused heavily on the agency's ability to break into personal electronics using a wide range of malware systems.

"It is CIA's job to be innovative, cutting-edge, and the first line of defence in protecting this country from enemies abroad," she said.

She also claimed that none of the purported activities were targeted at US citizens. The CIA is prohibited from spying on people inside the country and on Americans abroad.

WikiLeaks published nearly 9,000 documents it said were leaked from the CIA, in what it described 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.

US intelligence and law enforcement officials told Reuters on Wednesday they have been aware of a CIA security breach, which led to the latest Wikileaks dump, since late last year.

The officials told the outlet they were focusing on contractors as the likeliest source of the leak.

Most experts believe the materials published by WikiLeaks to be genuine, and US media said on Wednesday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is preparing to open a criminal probe into the leak, which could involve searching for a turncoat or sleeper spy in the agency.

The Washington Post said the FBI is preparing "a major mole hunt" to figure out how WikiLeaks obtained the huge portfolio of hacking information, plans and tools.

US justice officials would not confirm the investigation, which would come as the CIA is already enmeshed in a politicised probe into Russia's alleged interference in the US election last year to help President Donald Trump's campaign.

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