Former UK ambassador to Turkey appointed British intelligence chief

Former British Ambassador to Turkey Richard Moore was appointed chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, BBC Türkçe reported on Wednesday.

Moore, who currently serves as political director at the British Foreign Office, will replace Alex Younger, who has been chairman of the foreign intelligence service for nearly six years, in the fall, it said.

Moore said he was “pleased and honoured” to be asked to return to lead his service.

“I look forward to continuing that work alongside the brave and dedicated team at SIS,” the Financial Times quoted him as saying in a statement on Wednesday.

The 57-year-old was particularly liked in Turkey during his term as Britain’s diplomatic envoy to Ankara, serving from January 2014 to December 2017. Fluent in Turkish, he was popular for his Twitter posts and support for the Beşiktaş football club.

Moore was in Istanbul on the night of the failed coup attempt in 2016 and soon after advocated Britain taking an early and strong stance against the putsch plotters, according to the Financial Times.

Turkish Consul General to Chicago Umut Acar praised Moore’s appointment to Britain's spy chief – traditionally known as “C”.

“Good news for Beşiktaş scout team,” Acar said on Twitter.

Another Twitter user also referred to Moore’s admiration for Beşiktaş.

“Richard Moore the old UK ambassador to Turkey and avid Besiktas fan is now the head of Mi6. Now I wanna see the refs try to screw us over,” it said.

Hurriyet journalist Nalan Koçak drew comparison between Moore, Gina Haspel, who at one time operated in Turkey on behalf of the CIA and is currently the agency’s director, and Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, a former official at the Soviet embassy in Ankara. All three people speak fluent Turkish.

“USA, Britain, Russia... Names who speak Turkish in all three countries are in very key positions,” she wrote on Twitter.

A separate Twitter account included former French ambassador to Turkey Bernard Émié, who is the current head of France’s external intelligence agency DGSE, to Koçak's grouping of senior government officials.

Moore, born in Libya, previously had postings in Vietnam, Turkey (as a junior diplomat between 1990-1992), Pakistan and Malaysia, according to the British government's official website.