‘A company that cooperates with the CIA based in Cyprus,’ read the headline of a report which appeared in a daily newspaper on Tuesday. The suggestion was that this was a bad thing, even though the report referred to a “colossus-company” which “produces software of the latest technology, with expertise in digital forensics and is considered the leader in this field.”
Logically, we should be very happy that a big international company, like Belkasoft, which is a world leader in its field, has set up operations here, helping the economy in difficult times and also raising the profile of Cyprus as a headquartering base. This is not news that needs the negative spin put on by the newspaper. The CIA is not a terrorist or a criminal organisation but it was singled out for special mention as a customer because in Cyprus it comes with negative connotations, dating back to 1974.
Interestingly, Belkasoft’s customers also include the FBI, the California Department of Public Health and big companies like Disney, Sony and PwC, although most of its customers are based in the EU. The report also said that Russia’s FSB and Justice Ministry had been customers, but no longer appeared on the customer list.
Another point that was considered worth mentioning in this welcoming report by the newspaper was that the company’s CEO last March had a “two-hour meeting with the crime department of the national police force of Turkey,” and posted on social media that “we can help them make their investigative work more effective.”
What was the relevance of this point other than to portray the company in a bad light? Was the newspaper suggesting the government should check whether an international company has offered services to the Turkish state before allowing it to set up operations here? If it were, why not say this clearly instead of resorting to innuendo? But how will we attract big companies to set up HQs in Cyprus if the local media carry negative reports before they have even started operations?
If it is a disreputable company, the media has a responsibility to expose this, but presenting a successful company in a bad light because the CIA and the Turkish police are among its customers is both stupid and irresponsible, creating a very bad impression. If this is how media plan to treat companies looking to set up a base in Cyprus, the government may as well scrap the incentives scheme it drafted to attract foreign business to the island.