Portuguese spy chief quits ahead of NATO summit

Portugal`s spy chief was reportedly angered by cuts in defence spending.

Lisbon: Portugal`s spy chief resigned on the eve of a NATO summit in Lisbon, but the country`s defence minister on Thursday said this will not affect the security of the leaders from the military alliance`s 28 member nations, including President Barack Obama.

Jorge Silva Carvalho resigned as the head of the Strategic Defence Intelligence Service, Defence Minister Augusto Santos Silva said, without providing any other details.

Local media reported that Silva Carvalho was angered by cuts in defence spending amid a financial crisis caused in part by Portugal`s high debt burden.

The resignation "will have no effect at all on security matters in any area, neither in domestic security nor in intelligence procedures," Santos Silva said.

He said the intelligence service would remain fully operational and that Silva Carvalho would remain in his job until a replacement takes office next month.

Officials at the Defence Ministry and the intelligence service`s headquarters said they would not be commenting further on the matter.

Daily paper Publico said the government plans to cut the intelligence service`s budget by around EUR 1 million (USD 1.36 million) next year. Its 2010 budget is EUR 11.3 million (USD 15.4 million).

Diario de Noticias, another daily, said that seven spy stations, including those in Madrid, Brussels and Cairo, would be shut in 2011 when a government austerity plan designed to ease the country`s debt burden comes into force.

The Defence Ministry`s budget is due to be reduced by about 11 percent.

The two-day NATO summit starting on Friday is expected to include discussions about defence cuts in Europe where many alliance member nations are trying to trim government spending.