February 23, 2010 / 12:46 AM / 9 years ago

Danish defence minister resigns, govt reshuffle seen

COPENHAGEN, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Denmark said on Monday its defence minister had resigned, and Danish media said Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen would announce a government reshuffle on Tuesday, including a new foreign minister.

"My decision now to resign is, among other things, due to the big focus on me as a person," Defence Minister Soren Gade said in a statement late on Monday.

Danish police are investigating a leak in 2007 of classified information about Danish elite troops in Iraq after a journalist said last month he had proof it was Gade’s spokesman Jacob Winther who leaked the information.

The military has said the fact the information was published endangered the lives of the Danish soldiers.

Defence chiefs tried last year to stop the publication of a separate book by a soldier about Danish elite troops in Afghanistan, saying that too constituted a threat to troops.

The head of Denmark’s armed forces quit in October over the book after the military was forced to admit that one of its own officers had translated the book into Arabic.

Gade has been heavily criticised by the opposition and in the media for his handling of both issues.

"My political room for manoeuvre has narrowed and I can’t live with that as a minister," daily Jyllands-Posten quoted Gade as saying.

"One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that I have been substantially weakened in the past six months," Jyllands-Posten quoted Gade as saying.

TV2 News said Business Minister Lene Espersen would replace Per Stig Moller as foreign minister in a wider reshuffle on Tuesday of the centre-right government coalition. It said Gitte Lillelund Bech would replace Gade. (Reporting by Anna Ringstrom, Editing by Alison Williams)




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