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US sanctions Kaspersky firm

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The United States unveiled sanctions against 12 top leaders of the Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, a day after banning the sale of its popular antivirus software on national security grounds.

The widespread sanctions target many of Kaspersky Lab’s most senior leaders, including its chief operating officer, while sparing the chief executive and the company itself, the Treasury Department said in a statement announcing the designation.

“Today’s action against the leadership of Kaspersky Lab underscores our commitment to ensure the integrity of our cyber domain and to protect our citizens against malicious cyber threats,” said the US Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson.

“The United States will take action where necessary to hold accountable those who would seek to facilitate or otherwise enable these activities,” he added.

The Treasury sanctions come a day after the Commerce Department said it was banning the Moscow-headquartered cybersecurity firm from providing its popular antivirus products in the United States.

That announcement came after a lengthy investigation which, the Commerce Department said, found that Kaspersky’s “continued operations in the United States presented a national security risk due to the Russian government’s offensive cyber capabilities and capacity to influence or direct Kaspersky’s operations.”

The move is the first such action taken since an executive order issued during Donald Trump’s presidency gave the Commerce Department the power to investigate whether certain companies pose a national security risk.

Kaspersky, in a statement to AFP, said the Treasury’s sanctions were “unjustified and baseless,” adding that they were based on geopolitical concerns rather than a “comprehensive evaluation” of the integrity of its products and operations.

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