The CIA director has condemned the activities of the whistleblowing group WikiLeaks and expressed concern over Iran’s policy in Iraq.
The actions of WikiLeaks are a threat to the national security of the United States, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said.
Speaking at a panel at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in Southern California, Pompeo was asked whether he sees a WikiLeaks as a security threat. “Yes,” the CIA chief responded.
“You need to go no further than the release of documents by Manning to see the risk that it presents to the United States,” Pompeo added, referring to US whistleblower Chelsea Manning who handed thousands of classified documents and reports over to WikiLeaks while employed with the US military in 2010.
He also said that despite WikiLeaks insisting that its informants are safe the CIA “will go after them.”
“I sometimes hear comments from WikiLeaks and [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange thinking that those who have provided classified information are safe and secure, he ought to be a bit more confident about that because we’re gonna go figure out how to make sure we protect this information,” Pompeo said.
WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have not yet responded to Pompeo’s remarks.
This is not the first time Pompeo, who once applauded WikiLeaks, has attacked the anti-secrecy group. In April, Pompeo described WikiLeaks as a “hostile intelligence agency” and called Assange a “fraud” and a “coward hiding behind a screen.” At the time, WikiLeaks countered, saying that Pompeo’s remarks were “dangerous” and aimed to “stifle speech.”
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The latest remarks by Pompeo came just a few weeks later after WikiLeaks revealed that the CIA had written a code to “impersonate” Russia-based IT-company Kaspersky Lab, as part of a series of its revelations about secret tools used by the intelligence agency. On March 7, WikiLeaks released the first part of what it called the “Vault 7,” an unprecedentedly large archive of CIA-related classified documents, comprising various viruses, malware, software vulnerability hacks and relevant documentation, which was initially uncovered by US government hackers.
Warning to Iran
Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Pompeo also said that he had sent a letter to Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani and Iranian leaders, expressing concern about Iran’s growing influence in Iraq.
“What we were communicating to him in that letter was that we will hold him and Iran accountable for any attacks on American interests in Iraq by forces that are under their control,” Pompeo said.
“We wanted to make sure he and the leadership in Iran understood that in a way that was crystal clear,” he added.
According to the CIA director, Soleimani refused to open the letter.
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In October, it was reported that Soleimani had repeatedly warned Kurdish leaders in Iraq to withdraw from the city of Kirkuk and traveled to Iraqi Kurdistan to meet Kurdish leaders ahead of the Iraqi campaign aimed at recapturing Kirkuk province from the Kurds.
Tehran’s growing influence in Iraq has been a concern for Washington and its allies who have been fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria and are often in proximity to Iran-allied forces fighting the terrorist group in the region, especially taking into account the role of the Kurds as a US ally in the Middle East.