The whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks says it has obtained and published thousands of documents by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that reveals the US spy agency’s hacking secrets, including its ability to penetrate encrypted communications.
WikiLeaks said in a statement on Tuesday that the CIA files are the “most comprehensive” release of US spying files ever made public.
The anti-secrecy website said it redacted the names of purported CIA officers and withheld other information it said might be too damaging, including the CIA’s cyber weapons themselves.
Wikileaks said the covert hacking program taps into Google’s Android, Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which can be turned into covert microphones.
“By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware,” Wikileaks said on its website.
“The CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.”
Jonathan Liu, a spokesman for the CIA, said: “We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”
WikiLeaks said its source released the files because they believed the CIA’s spying program “urgently need to be debated in public,” echoing the motives of many previous leakers.
If the leaked documents are authentic, their release would deliver a major blow to the CIA.
The US government has said that WikiLeaks is a tool of Russian intelligence agencies. In December, the CIA said it had concluded that Russian intelligence operatives provided materials to Wikileaks in an effort to help President Donald Trump’s defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.