France sets up new domestic intelligence agency

13th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 13, 2007 (AFP) - France announced Thursday the creation of a new intelligence agency, merging two long-standing services in a bid to improve the response to security threats.

PARIS, Sept 13, 2007 (AFP) - France announced Thursday the creation of a new intelligence agency, merging two long-standing services in a bid to improve the response to security threats.

The new DRI agency will be made up of the RG police intelligence unit and the DST counter-intelligence service in a shakeup long advocated by President Nicolas Sarkozy, who served as interior minister under the previous government.

Interior Minister Marie Alliot-Marie made the announcement during a visit to the headquarters of the new agency in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret.

The government has argued that a new streamlined agency will be better suited to respond to the challenges of combating terrorism, economic espionage and monitoring of major protest groups.

It will also translate into savings for the state as the DST and RG were known to overlap, in particular on counter-terrorism cases, and at times rival each other.

All of the DST's 2,000 agents will now work for the new agency as will 80 percent of the RG's nearly 4,000 officers, putting an end to a unit created in 1911.

Le Figaro newspaper on Thursday described the agency as a "French FBI" and said that Bernard Squarcini, the current head of the DST and a close aide to Sarkozy, was tipped to take its helm.

French intelligence is currently carried out by five agencies that answer to the interior and defence ministers and employ some 14,000 agents.

Dubbed "long ears", the RG was the largest domestic agency, tasked with counter-terrorism and also monitoring of political mouvements deemed potentially dangerous.

AFP

Subject: French news

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