British spy chief accused by Snowden leaks will step down at year end
The British spy chief whose agency was accused in documents leaked by former US intelligence operative Edward Snowden of playing a principal role in mass Anglo-US surveillance will step down at year end, Britain's Foreign Office said today.
The leaks detailed the close cooperation of Britain's GCHQ eavesdropping agency with the US National Security Agency (NSA), and embarrassed and angered the British government and its spy chiefs.
Iain Lobban, 53, has served as GCHQ's director for six years.
"Iain Lobban is doing an outstanding job as Director GCHQ," said a spokeswoman. "Today is simply about starting the process of ensuring we have a suitable successor in place before he moves on, planned at the end of the year."
Officials said his departure had nothing to do with fallout resulting from the leaked documents.
Prime Minister David Cameron's government has so far deflected calls for changes to the way Britain's intelligence agencies are watched, saying the current oversight system is sufficiently rigorous and that much about their work must remain secret for national security.