Domestic security boss becomes France’s top spookWed, 20 Dec 2023 13:38:17 GMT

France’s domestic intelligence chief was appointed Wednesday to head the country’s DGSE foreign espionage service made famous by the fictional hit series “The Bureau”.Nicolas Lerner is to replace a career diplomat as head of the Directorate-General for External Security, Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said.It is the first time that a former head of the Directorate-General for Internal Security (DGSI) has become chief of the foreign intelligence agency.Lerner, a 45-year-old civil servant, graduated from the elite graduate school ENA the same year as President Emmanuel Macron and is said to be close to the leader.Reputed to be hardworking and discreet, he has spent all his career within the interior ministry, essentially working on national security, becoming head of the DGSI in 2018.He replaces Bernard Emie, a diplomat who had been French ambassador to Lebanon, Turkey, Great Britain, Algeria and Jordan before being appointed to head the DGSE in 2017.Emie launched reforms within the DGSE and saw the agency’s budget increase. He is said to have improved relations with the domestic security agency.But many have criticised the DGSE under him for failing to foresee the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine and a string of military coups in former French colonies Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Fictional series “The Bureau” was a huge international hit for French producer Canal+, sold to more than 100 countries and was praised even by the DGSE for its realism.