Diplomat appointed to head UK eavesdropping agency

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LONDON (AP) — A diplomat who has advised the British government on counterterrorism has been appointed head of the electronic spy agency GCHQ.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday that Robert Hannigan will take over the organization, whose covert activities were exposed by leaks from former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Hannigan is currently director-general of defense and intelligence at the Foreign Office. He previously advised then-Prime Minister Tony Blair on the Northern Ireland peace process and developed Britain's first cybersecurity strategy.

He will succeed Iain Lobban, who announced his departure earlier this year after five years in the job. Officials say his departure is not linked to the Snowden leaks, which showed GCHQ was a key partner of the NSA in eavesdropping on a vast scale on electronic communications.

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