France: Nicolas Lerner, a specialist in internal security takes the head of the DGSE

Prefect Nicolas Lerner, who for five years had been the head of the Directorate General of Internal Security (DGSI), was appointed on Wednesday 20 December as head of the DGSE, the foreign intelligence agency. This was announced this Wednesday on X by the Minister of the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu. This is the first time that the head of a domestic intelligence service has taken over as head of the country's foreign intelligence.

Nicolas Lerner is now, at the age of 45, the youngest director appointed to head the DGSE. AFP - STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN

By: RFI Follow


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Nicolas Lerner was already the youngest director of the DGSI, and at the age of 45 he is now the youngest director appointed to head the DGSE. Also a first: the appointment of Céline Berthon, current number two of the General Directorate of the National Police (DGPN), as head of the DGSI. The 47-year-old is the first woman to take the reins of homeland security.

Nicolas Lerner, who graduated from the same class as Emmanuel Macron, with whom he is close, is unanimously hailed as a "hard worker". This senior civil servant has spent most of his career in the Ministry of the Interior, mainly on security issues.

The DGSI, a leader in the fight against terrorism

Assigned to the General Secretariat of Place Beauvau in 2004 after graduating from the ENA, he was Chief of Staff to the Prefect of Hérault from 2006 to 2008. He then worked in the office of the Prefect of Police of Paris, before being appointed in 2014 as Sub-Prefect of Béziers. Coordinator for security in South Corsica from 2015 to 2017, he became deputy director of the Minister of the Interior Gérard Collomb in 2018.

During his five years at the head of the DGSI, he has managed to improve the often tense relations between foreign and domestic intelligence. His appointment thus illustrates the now close links between the two French intelligence bodies.

And at the request of President Macron, he has made the DGSI the undisputed leader in the fight against terrorism. Since the attacks of 2015 and in a context of the ever-present terrorist threat, the resources of the DGSI have been increased during his mandate. By the end of 2023, the management will include a total of 5,000 agents, compared to 4,200 at the end of 2018.

The implementation of a wide-ranging reform of the DGSE

On Boulevard Mortier, he will benefit from a substantial increase in the DGSE's budget obtained by his predecessor Bernard Emié, to implement a vast reform and the relocation of the service to the Fort de Vincennes.

But Nicolas Lerner is also at the head of a house that has been racking up criticism in recent months, notably for not having seen the invasion of Ukraine coming, and for not having anticipated the successive coups d'état in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.


and with AFP)

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  • France
  • Information
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