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Britain's GCHQ intelligence agency getting first female chief

FILE: Anne Keast-Butler, incoming GCHQ Director, April 2023
FILE: Anne Keast-Butler, incoming GCHQ Director, April 2023 Copyright UK Government
Copyright UK Government
By Euronews
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The agency gathers electronic intelligence and takes the lead on cybersecurity.

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Britain's GCHQ intelligence agency is to get a female chief for the first time in the organisation's 100-year history. 

Foreign Minister James Cleverly announced on Tuesday that Anne Keast-Butler has been named to take over the leadership role at GCHQ, where the UK gathers and analyses electronic intelligence data.  

The agency also takes the lead on cybersecurity and how to interfere with, or disrupt, communications from Britain's adversaries. 

Currently, Keast-Butler is deputy head of Britain's MI5 domestic intelligence service and has worked there for the last 30 years in "a number of key operational roles," according to a statement. 

"In just the last year GCHQ has contributed vital intelligence to shape the West’s response to the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine; helped disrupt terrorist plots; and worked tirelessly to tackle the ongoing threat of ransomware, the impact of which costs the UK dearly," said Keast-Butler.

"GCHQ’s mission to keep the UK safe is as inspiring today as it was when it was founded more than 100 years ago, operating at the very heart of the UK and our allies’ response to some of the most challenging issues of our time," she added.

The intelligence agency is based at the famous "Doughnut" building on the outskirts of Cheltenham in England and has an annual budget of more than €4 billion.

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