Spymaster sought: Britain's MI6 to appoint new boss as John Sawers steps down after 5 years

Wanted: Spymaster. Discretion an asset.

Britain's MI6 intelligence agency announced Thursday that director John Sawers will leave in November at the end of his five-year term. MI6 says the recruitment process for Sawers' successor will begin soon.

MI6, also known as the Secret Intelligence Service, is Britain's foreign intelligence agency. Its most famous boss is the fictional M in the James Bond stories — although the real-life MI6 chief is known as C.

Sawers brought an unprecedented openness to the job, delivering speeches and appearing at televised parliamentary hearings. His 2009 appointment brought allegations of a security lapse when his wife posted beach photos and personal information on Facebook.

Britain's spies have faced increasing criticism in the wake of revelations by WikiLeaks and former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.