Huawei CEO says not surprised by U.S. spying reports

LONDON Fri May 2, 2014 9:59am EDT

LONDON May 2 (Reuters) - The founder of China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, said media reports that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on his company came as no surprise, and they would not damage its reputation among its customers.

The New York Times and Der Spiegel reported in March that documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden said the U.S. agency accessed servers at the company's Shenzhen headquarters to obtain sensitive data and monitor executives' communications.

"This monitoring behaviour of the United States is within expectations," Huawei's founder and Chief Executive Ren Zhengfei told reporters in a rare meeting with the press in London on Friday. "It has just been proved."

He added it was not just people in the United States who would be interested in the activities of the world's second-largest telecoms equipment maker and third-biggest smartphone manufacturer.

But Ren said the reports would not damage the firm's reputation with its major telecoms customers in Europe and Asia in terms of the security of its products.

"The business we are doing with our customers is built on a mutual understanding between our customers and ourselves over the last two to three decades, therefore those things going on will not, I believe, have any impact on doing business with us," he said.

"It is not necessary to believe this has a heavy burden and I believe it will pass some day."

The surveillance reports came as an embarrassment for the United States because lawmakers in the country have often voiced security concerns about Huawei's networks, effectively shutting the Chinese company out of the U.S. telecom gear market.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle and Jane Barrett; Editing by Pravin Char)