March 19, 2017 / 10:28 AM / in 6 months

Deputy director of Britain's MI5 to head GCHQ spy agency: report

FILE PHOTO - People sit at computers in the 24 hour Operations Room inside GCHQ, Cheltenham in Cheltenham, November 17, 2015. REUTERS/Ben Birchall/Pool/File Photo - RTX31GRD

LONDON (Reuters) - The deputy director-general of Britain’s internal security service is to become the new head of intelligence eavesdropping service GCHQ, the Sunday Times newspaper reported without citing the source of its information.

The Sunday Times reported MI5’s Jeremy Fleming, who it said had worked at the intelligence agency for at least 20 years, would be named GCHQ head this week.

The previous head of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, who had been in post since 2014, said in January he was stepping down for family reasons.

Last week, in a rare public statement, GCHQ dismissed claims made on a U.S. television station that it helped former President Barack Obama eavesdrop on Donald Trump after last year’s U.S. presidential election.

On Friday Trump stood by the unproven claims and shrugged off a dispute with Britain over the notion their spy agency had a hand in it.

“Jeremy will be expected to make a trip to the US very early on to seek reassurances from our partners,” the Sunday Times reported an anonymous source as saying.

“It’ll be important to remind our partners there that more consideration and respect need to be afforded to the intelligence communities by the Trump administration.”

GCHQ could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Keith Weir

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