Kaspersky CEO says he would leave if Russia asked him to spy

LONDON, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab has never been asked by Russian intelligence services to spy on targets in the West and the company’s founder and the chief executive said he would move his company out of the country if he ever faced such a demand.

Fears about Kaspersky’s ties to Russian intelligence, and the capacity of its anti-virus software to sniff out and remove files, prompted an escalating series of warnings and actions from U.S. authorities over the past year.

They culminated in the Department of Homeland Security this year barring government agencies from using Kaspersky products.

“Never, Never,” CEO Eugene Kaspersky told reporters at a media briefing at the company’s offices in London, when asked if Russian intelligence had ever asked him to help them spy on the West. “They have never asked us to spy on people. Never.”

Kaspersky, who once served as an engineer for Soviet military intelligence before founding his company in the years following the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, said he would move the company outside of Russia if he faced such a demand to spy.

“If the Russian government comes to me and asks me to anything wrong, or my employees, I will move the business out of Russia,” Kaspersky said in English.

Kaspersky said the company was under attack by the U.S. media and the U.S. government.

He acknowledged that such attacks - which were mostly, based on incorrect information - would hurt his company. He said revenues would top $700 million globally this year.

Revenues in the United States would be about 5-8 percent lower in its current fiscal year than last year due to the attacks, he said. Revenue in Europe is expected to be flat while revenue in the rest of the world would continue to see double digit growth, he predicted.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Eric Auchard