ⓘ Paz Esteban Lopez

Paz Esteban Lopez

ⓘ Paz Esteban Lopez

Paz Esteban Lopez is a Spanish intelligence officer serving as Director of the National Intelligence Centre since 2020. She is the first woman to hold the post and was previously the Secretary-General of the agency from 2017 to 2019, under Felix Sanz Roldan.


1. Early life

Esteban was born in Madrid in 1958. She studied at the Autonomous University of Madrid, where she graduated in May 1978 with a degree of Philosophy and Literature. She is an expert in ancient and medieval history. After graduating, Esteban began to prepare the public exam for archives and libraries civil servants. However, a relative of his father offered her to work in a "Ministry", which ended up being the Spanish intelligence service.


2. Early career

She joined the Superior Centre for Defense Information CESID in 1983 when General Emilio Alonso Manglano was director. Esteban specialized in foreign intelligence, although she has never worked as a field agent. Her first jobs within the intelligence service were the preparation of reports on the permanence of Spain in NATO, before the 1986 referendum. She also elaborated, as an analyst, reports relating the 11-S and 11-M terrorist attacks.

Until 2004 she held positions focused on foreign intelligence and, as of this year, she was promoted to managing posts. In 2010, CNI Director Sanz Roldan appoined her as his Chief of Staff, a position she held until June 2017, when she was appointed Secretary-General of the intelligence agency second-in-command after the resignation of Beatriz Mendez de Vigo.


2.1. Early career Secretary-General of the CNI

In June 2017, CNI Secretary-General Beatriz Mendez de Vigo announced her resignation and, despite the efforts of the Deputy Prime Minister, Saenz de Santamaria, to convince her otherwise, her resignation was effective on June 13, 2017.

On June 9, 2017, the Council of Ministers nominated Esteban as Secretary-General. The Monarch effectively appointed her on June 13, 2017.

In July 2019, the second five-years-term of the director of the CNI, Sanz Roldan, ended. At that time, the Spanish government Sanchez I Government was a caretaker government due to the April 2019 general election. The impossibility of forming a government provoked that the Prime Minister could not renew the director for a new term or to nominate a new candidate.

Due to this situation, Esteban, who was the Secretary-General of the CNI and, therefore, the agencys second authority, assumed the direction ad interim of the intelligence service, being the first woman to hold the post.


3. Director of the CNI

On January 31, 2020, the Office of the Prime Minister announced that, Esteban, who since July 2019 was acting director of the agency, would be confirmed as the new CNI Director and as the CCN Director. Esteban was officially appointed on February 5, 2020. She was sworn in on February 10, 2020.

On February 19 the central government appointed Arturo Relanzon Sanchez-Gabriel as the new Secretary-General of the agency, being the first man to hold the position.

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