WASHINGTON, March 7 WikiLeaks said on Tuesday it
had obtained a top-secret trove of hacking tools used by the CIA
to break into phones, communication apps and other electronic
devices, and released documents related to those programs.
If verified, the information would amount to yet another
stunning breach of classified material stolen in recent years
from U.S. intelligence agencies.
WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy organization led by Julian
Assange, said its publication of the documents pertaining to the
hacking tools on Tuesday on its website, www.wikileaks.org, was
the first in a series of releases drawing from a data set that
includes several hundred million lines of code and includes the
CIA's "entire hacking capacity."
Among the explosive claims made in the documents are that
the CIA, in partnership with other U.S. and foreign intelligence
agencies, has been able to break the encryption on popular
messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal.
Reuters could not immediately verify the contents of the
"We do not comment on the authenticity or content of
purported intelligence documents," CIA spokesman Jonathan Liu
said in a statement.
One cyber security consultant who had done work for the U.S.
government, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity
of the news, said the leak appeared to be legitimate.
U.S. officials said they were unaware of where WikiLeaks
might have obtained the alleged CIA material. One government
source said he was unaware of any recent or current
investigations into possible leaks of this kind of CIA material.
WikiLeaks also said the documents showed CIA operatives had
researched how to hack and take control of devices other than
computers and smart phones connected to the Internet.
In one case, it said, U.S. and British personnel, under a
program known as Weeping Angel, had developed ways to take over
a Samsung smart television, making it appear it was off when in
fact it was recording conversations in the room.
WikiLeaks published tranches of secret government
information in the past and played a prominent role in the 2016
U.S. presidential election by disclosing internal emails of
senior Democratic Party officials.
U.S. intelligence agencies believe the emails were hacked by
Russia as part of a coordinated influence campaign to discredit
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and help President Donald
Trump, a Republican, win.
Russia has denied the charge.
(Reporting by Dustin Volz, Mark Hosenball, Warren Strobel and
Jim Finkle; Editing by Bill Trott)