WASHINGTON — Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, said Thursday that the anti-secrecy organization would work with Apple, Google and other technology companies to fix flaws that have allowed the CIA to hack into the phones, computers and other devices they produce.
Speaking from London in an online news conference, Assange accused the CIA of withholding information about the vulnerabilities the agency was exploiting in U.S. technology even after it realized documents describing the flaws had been leaked weeks ago.
While some companies have already fixed the weaknesses revealed in a batch of secret CIA documents made public by WikiLeaks on Tuesday, Assange said, others say they need more technical information on the hacking techniques.
“There’s a limited ability to try and produce security fixes for iPhones, for Samsung TVs, for Android phones produced by Google, for Microsoft, for Linux, because the exact technical details are not known,” Assange said. “We have decided to work with them to give them some exclusive access to the additional technical details we have, so that fixes can be developed and pushed out so people can be secured.”
For Assange, it was a remarkable turning of the tables. He presented himself as a defender of some of the most prominent U.S. technology companies against their own government’s overreaching and double-dealing.
The CIA responded with an unusually full response, attacking Assange’s credibility and noting that any spying it does is restricted by law to foreigners and foreign countries, with Americans off limits.
“As we’ve said previously, Julian Assange is not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity,” Heather Fritz Horniak, an agency spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Despite the efforts of Assange and his ilk, CIA continues to aggressively collect foreign intelligence overseas to protect America from terrorists, hostile nation states and other adversaries.”
The statement declined to acknowledge the authenticity of the more than 8,000 documents from the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence that WikiLeaks posted online, although officials have said privately that the leaked material is genuine.
The disclosure has set off a hunt for the leaker, who officials have said was most likely an agency insider or contractor.