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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

CIA calls WikiLeaks a hostile intelligence service, Julian Assange ‘coward’

CIA director Mike Pompeo on Thursday called WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service,” using his first public speech as spy agency chief to denounce leakers who have plagued US intelligence.

world Updated: Apr 15, 2017 02:12 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Washington
CIA director Mike Pompeo answers questions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington.
CIA director Mike Pompeo answers questions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington.(AP Photo)

Notwithstanding President Donald Trump’s public affection for WikiLeaks, CIA director Mike Pompeo on Thursday declared war on the organization behind a series of embarrassing disclosures of classified US documents.

“WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service,” Pompeo said at a think tank in his first public remarks after assuming office.

“It has encouraged its followers to find jobs at CIA in order to obtain intelligence. It directed Chelsea Manning in her theft of specific secret information. And it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States, while seeking support from anti-democratic countries and organisations.

“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.”

Contrast that to what Trump said about WikiLeaks on the campaign trail in October: “I love WikiLeaks”. That was when the organisation was releasing hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee the campaign chair of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

US intelligence has since said these hackings were carried out on the orders of Russian president Vladimir Putin and these mails were handed over to WikiLeaks, which has denied receiving them from Russians.

Pompeo, who was then a Republican member of the House of Representatives, had himself cited some of these hacked mails, but was nowhere as effusive in his praise for the organisation as the then Republican nominee and now president.

In his remarks on Thursday, the CIA director also targeted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in Ecuador’s London embassy for past few years, calling him a “narcissist”, a “fraud—a coward hiding behind a screen” and “the darling of terrorists”.

Pompeo also attacked Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker who is living in Moscow, saying that because of his “treachery” more than “a thousand foreign targets—people, groups, organisations—more than a thousand of them changed or tried to change how they communicated”.

The CIA director said WikiLeaks and other such “hostile non-state intelligence agencies” need to be stopped and called for denying them a platform. “Ignorance or misplaced idealism is no longer an acceptable excuse for lionising these demons,” he added.

First Published: Apr 14, 2017 09:57 IST

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