National Intelligence Agency director-general Billy Masetlha was considering his options on Wednesday after receiving confirmation of his suspension from President Thabo Mbeki.

In a minute signed by Mbeki on Tuesday, he confirmed that Masetlha's suspension on October 20 by Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils had been at his instruction.

This, after Masetlha filed papers in the Pretoria High Court, challenging the procedural aspect of his suspension by Kasrils, and not Mbeki.

He may now opt to follow a different route, said his lawyer Imraan Haffegee.

"We haven't yet decided how to proceed. We should know by later today (Wednesday) or tomorrow (Thursday)."

He said it was unclear who exactly suspended his client, and if it had been done correctly.

Haffegee said he received letters last week from Kasrils' and Mbeki's legal advisers stating that the suspension was at the president's instruction.

But no official confirmation was forthcoming from Mbeki himself until Tuesday.

"It was not a question of whether the president may or may not suspend my client, but one of whether he did or did not.

"Now I suppose the question will be whether he may or may not do so retrospectively."

It was not clear whether Masetlha's existing legal challenge was still valid, Haffegee said.

"We are still going through the process of determining that."

The presidency could not be reached for comment.

In a notice of motion before the high court, Masetlha asked for an order to overturn what he considered to be an unlawful suspension.

He had asked for the matter to be enrolled for hearing next Tuesday.

Kasrils and Mbeki were cited as respondents, but no relief was sought from the president. He was cited merely because he had an interest in the matter.

Masetlha asked in the court papers for Kasrils to be interdicted from interfering with his (Masetlha's) "right to enter his office premises and carry out his duties".

Kasrils suspended Masetlha and two other senior officials last month pending the outcome of an ongoing probe into claims of "serious misconduct" allegedly related to the unauthorised surveillance of politician-turned-businessman Saki Macozoma.

The suspension of Masetlha, his deputy Gibson Njenje and NIA general manager Bob Mhlanga, followed an initial probe by the Inspector-General of Intelligence at Kasrils' instruction.

This followed a complaint from a member of the public, believed to be Macozoma.

The matter has been linked in the media to a succession battle in the ruling African National Congress between Mbeki and his axed corruption-accused deputy Jacob Zuma.

Macozoma is said to be a Mbeki loyalist. The ministry has denied that the suspensions were politically motivated. - Sapa