Sarkozy ally named head of French domestic intelligence

July 3, 2007 - 0:0

PARIS (AFP) -- A close ally to President Nicolas Sarkozy, Bernard Squarcini, was named Wednesday as the new head of the French DST domestic intelligence agency.

Squarcini, 51, will replace Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, who becomes prefect, or regional governor, of the Hauts-de-Seine region outside Paris. "He is someone with experience who understands intelligence matters perfectly and therefore his appointment is not surprising," said government spokesman Laurent Wauquiez. Squarcini was the regional official in charge of security issues for the southern Provence-Alpes-Cote-d'Azur region, a post he held since 2004. He was also the number two for the police intelligence agency RG (General Intelligence) when Sarkozy served as interior minister. Born in Rabat, the former police officer was part of Sarkozy's "inner circle" at the interior ministry, according to a police source. His appointment comes as the government is planning to merge the DST and the RG