The CIA has accused WikiLeaks of endangering the American people and "equipping" US rivals over the leak of thousands of documents that purportedly show the extent of the CIA hacking programme.

In a statement, the intelligence agency said the disclosure by WikiLeaks “jeopardised” its mission to protect the American people.

"The American public should be deeply troubled by any WikiLeaks disclosure designed to damage the Intelligence Community’s ability to protect America against terrorists and other adversaries," the statement read.

"Such disclosures not only jeopardise US personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm," it added.

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The CIA also said it could not confirm the authenticity of the nearly 9,000 documents disclosed by WikiLeaks.

The documents, published on Tuesday, showed the wide range of the alleged CIA hacking programme.

In what WikiLeaks described as the largest-ever publication of secret intelligence materials, the leak suggested CIA malware targeted iPhones, Android systems, and Microsoft software.

It also said the CIA could turn on Samsung smart TVs into covert listening devices.

Investigating source of leak

The CIA refused to comment on any investigation into the source of the leak, but intelligence and law enforcement officials told Reuters they believed contractors were most likely responsible.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said they had been aware of a CIA security breach since late last year.

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WikiLeaks has said the trove of documents came from an archive that had circulated among US government hackers and private contractors.

The FBI has turned its attention to questioning those who had access to the information, according US media.

Experts who have started to sift through the material said that it appeared to be legitimate.

Named "Vault 7" by WikiLeaks, the disclosure says the CIA developed a malware to infect mobile phones to allow easier surveillance - but lost control of the technology. If the CIA really lost control of the technology, hackers worldwide could use the tools to steal data.

Edward McAndrew, a lawyer with a specialty in cyber security, told Al Jazeera the security breach is a major concern for the CIA because its technology could already be in the wrong hands.

"Once these tools are introduced into the wild of the internet, they cannot be reclaimed. We'll then see a race between those who would use these tools to exploit others and those trying to close all these vulnerabilities that have now come to light," he said.

The actual hacking tools were not part of the WikiLeaks trove.

Both Apple and Samsung have vowed to quickly fix any vulnerabilities in their products.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies