World

CIA head: WikiLeaks a 'hostile intelligence service'

WASHINGTON: Central Intelligence (CIA) Agency Director Mike Pompeo yesterday branded WikiLeaks a "hostile intelligence service", saying it threatens democratic nations and joins hands with dictators.

In his first public remarks since becoming chief of the US spy agency in February, Mr Pompeo focused on the anti-secrecy group and other leakers of classified information like Edward Snowden as one of the key threats facing the US.

"WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service. It has encouraged its followers to find jobs at CIA in order to obtain intelligence... And it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States, while seeking support from anti-democratic countries and organisations," said Mr Pompeo.

"It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is - a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia."

Mr Pompeo compared WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange to leakers of the pre-Internet days like former CIA official Philip Agee.

Mr Agee's exposing the identities of undercover CIA agents was blamed for the assassination of the agency's Athens station chief in 1974.

On Wednesday, Mr Assange published an opinion piece in the Washington Post in which he said his group's mission was the same as America's most respected newspapers: "to publish newsworthy content".

"WikiLeaks's sole interest is expressing constitutionally protected truths," he said

While it has released secret materials from around the world, WikiLeaks's notoriety comes from its US-related scoops.

Last month, WikiLeaks embarrassed the CIA and damaged its operations by releasing a large number of files and computer codes from the agency's top secret hacking operations. The data showed how the CIA exploits vulnerabilities in popular computer and networking hardware and software to gather intelligence. - AFP

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