WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange
Julian Assange has been seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London Reuters

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange claims that there is a "flaw" in Apple's iTunes that is used by surveillance companies to take over users' computers.

In a private interview with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism before giving a talk in London on Thursday, Assange claimed that governments are actively using surveillance techniques to spy on every single civilian in entire cities, storing everything about them.

"iTunes has a flaw in it and that flaw is automatically used by some of these [surveillance] companies to take over whatever computer system is running iTunes. And there are these sorts of backdoors into every popular phone, into every popular computer and every popular computer program," Assange claimed.

On Thursday Assange also spoke to a gathering of students and the press at City University, London about files newly released by Wikileaks which apparently detail mass-scale surveillance of civilians by their governments.

The whistleblowing website claims that companies monitor and record all mobile phone conversations and can take control of smartphones such as iPhones and BlackBerrys without the owner knowing.

Assange continued: "Some firms are selling to states secretly equipment to record everyone's mobile telephone location to within 50 meters for an entire city and keep that information permanently.

"They are selling Trojans so if you go to some website or if someone sends you an email and bang, it infects your phone with a Trojan and it records what you're saying in the room even when the phone doesn't appear to be active."

The Wikileaks founder claimed that the supposed widespread surveillance of civilians is "the equivalent of having a tank in your lounge" because what we do at home - use our phones, update Facebook, speaking to friends - is "being monitored by very sophisticated national security equipment."

Mr Assange asked the audience: "who has an iPhone, BlackBerry, or uses Gmail," then said: "you're all screwed. The reality is intelligence contractors are selling right now to countries across the world mass surveillance systems for all those products.

"We may end up in an Orwellian totalitarian surveillance state, of course that sounds bombastic but that's literally the surveillance system that we are in. It's total surveillance. It's a worrying situation for Western democracy."

Julian Assange: Smartphone Users 'Screwed' by Surveillance States