Peter Thonis, chief communications officer for telecom giant Verizon, will retire in July after more than eight years in the top post.

Peter ThonisThonis was VP of external communications for GTE in 2000 when the company merged with Bell Atlantic to create Verizon. He joined GTE when he was VP/comms. for BBN, which was acquired by GTE in 1997.

Bob Varettoni, executive director of corporate communications for Verizon, told O'Dwyer's that Thonis' replacement would be announced at a later date.

Verizon was thrust to the center of controversy this week after the Guardian reported on a National Security Agency surveillance program collecting phone records of Americans from the company.

Ed McFadden, VP for policy communications at Verizon in Washington, has declined to comment on the Guardian report.

Thonis was previously with IBM over 14 years in several posts, including as director of worldwide PR for its PC business.