Assange, who is living in Ecuador’s embassy in London, spoke on Facebook Live.
His appearance came two days after WikiLeaks published 7,818 pages of documents and 943 attachments that are part of what it says is the “largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.”
“The Central Intelligence Agency lost control of its entire cyberweapons arsenal,” Assange said. “This is an historic act of devastating incompetence to have created such an arsenal and stored it all in one place and not secured it.”
WikiLeaks said the documents, called Vault 7, contain several hundred million lines of code, providing “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.” WikiLeaks did not release the computer code because Assange said Thursday he doesn’t want “journalists and people of the world, our sources, being hacked using these weapons.”
He wants to first give the information to companies such as Apple, Google and Samsung.
“We have decided to work with [manufacturers] to give them exclusive access to the additional technological details we have so that fixes can be developed and pushed out,” Assange said. “Once this material is effectively disarmed by us we will publish additional details.”
Assange didn’t say when the code would be handed over to the companies.
The programs have allowed the CIA to tap into phones — Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows — and Samsung smart TVs, WikiLeaks said.
Tech companies, including Google and Apple, said many vulnerabilities exposed in the documents have already been patched. And Microsoft said most of the issues apparently involved older technology corrected with more modern systems.
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said the CIA is prohibited from conducting electronic surveillance targeting individuals in the United States.
“As we’ve said previously, Julian Assange is not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity,” Boyd told NBC News on Thursday. “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 FBI launched a criminal investigation into the document dump.
Since 2012, Assange, 45, an Australian citizen, has lived in exile to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he has been accused of sexual assault. Assange also could be extradited to the United States, where he could be prosecuted for WikiLeaks’ release of classified U.S. embassy cables.
By Allen Cone