Agence France Presse, Updated: December 02, 2011 00:56 IST
They have come to light in part from offices ransacked during uprisings in countries such as Egypt and Libya earlier this year, as well as investigative work by WikiLeaks and its media and campaigning partners.
“These systems that are revealed in these documents show exactly the kind of systems that the Stasi (East Germany’s secret police) wished they could have built,” said Jacob Appelbaum, a former WikiLeaks spokesman and computer expert at the University of Washington.
“These systems have been sold by Western companies to places for example like Syria, and Libya and Tunisia and Egypt. These systems are used to hunt people down and to murder.”
Experts who worked on the release warned that at present the industry was completely unregulated, and urged governments worldwide to introduce new laws governing the export of such technology.
“Western governments cannot stand idly by while this technology is still being sold,” said Eric King, from the Privacy International campaign group.
It is the first time WikiLeaks has released documents since it announced on October 24 that it had been forced to suspend publishing classified files due to a funding blockade that saw its revenues plunge by 95 per cent.