CIA director: Wikileaks a 'hostile' intelligence service abetted by Russia

PHOTO: CIA Director Mike Pompeo answers questions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, April 13, 2017. Pompeo denounced WikiLeaks, calling the anti-secrecy group a "hostile intelligence agencyPlayPablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
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CIA Director Mike Pompeo blasted anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks on Thursday calling it a "hostile" intelligence-gathering service that is often "abetted by state actors like Russia."

"WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service," Pompeo said during an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, saying, "it's time to call out WikiLeaks for what it is."

He called WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a "fraud" and "coward" and criticized NSA leaker Edward Snowden for championing "nothing but his own celebrity."

"I am quite confident that had Assange been around in the 1930s and 40s and 50s, he would have found himself on the wrong side of history," Pompeo said.

Last month, WikiLeaks released nearly 8,000 documents that it says reveals secrets about the CIA's cyberespionage tools for breaking into targeted computers, cellphones and even smart TVs.

"As a policy, we at CIA do not comment on the accuracy of purported intelligence documents posted online. In keeping with that policy, I will not specifically comment on the authenticity or provenance of recent disclosures," Pompeo said.

"The false narratives that increasingly define our public discourse cannot be ignored," he continued. "There are fictions out there that demean and distort the work and achievements of CIA and of the broader Intelligence Community. And in the absence of a vocal rebuttal, these voices —- ones that proclaim treason to be public advocacy —- gain a gravity they do not deserve."

He went on to reiterate that the CIA is not spying on the American public.

"We do not pursue covert action on a whim," Pompeo said. "Let me assure you when it comes to covert action, there is oversight and accountability in every step of the way."

"We’re not tapping on anyone’s phone in my hometown of Wichita," he said.

The former Kansas Republican lawmaker refused to answer questions about the intelligence community’s investigation of Russia, nor did he discuss the "mother of all bombs" dropped on ISIS forces in Afghanistan Thursday.

But he did comment on the intel community’s relationship with the White House and President Trump.

"It’s fantastic," Pompeo said, adding that Trump and his staff ask the tough questions and are "voracious consumers of the product we’ve developed."

He said he believes Trump is completely prepared to hear intelligence that "runs opposite to the hypothesis."