Der Spiegel sacks star journalist for falsifying articles 'on a grand scale'

German news magazine Der Spiegel sacks journalist for fabricating stories

German weekly Der Spiegel says one of its star reporters has left the publication after committing journalistic fraud "on a grand scale" over a number of years.

Relotius admitted at least 14 of almost 60 articles he has written for Der Spiegel were at least partially fabricated.

Other false stories by Relotius reportedly include an article a Yemeni prisoner in Guantanamo Bay and a piece about National Football League star Colin Kaepernick.

Der Spiegel revealed that Claas Relotius, 33, resigned when it was revealed his articles included made-up material from interviews that never happened.

The first suspicions emerged following the publication in November 2018 of the article "Hunter's border" about an American vigilante group that patrols the border between Mexico and the United States.

Der Spiegel said the fraud was uncovered after a colleague raised concerns over faked interviews in a story about a border militia in Arizona.

It cited Relotius as saying that at least 14 of the articles he wrote for Der Spiegel, some of which won awards, did not meet journalistic standards.

Relotius initially tried to protect himself by producing fraudulent proof but as the evidence against him mounted, he eventually admitted his deceit.

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Some of the roughly 60 stories Relotius had written since 2011 were accurate but others were "completely invented or embellished with manipulated quotes or other fact-fantasy", the magazine said on its website.

"I'm sick, and I have to get help now", an apologetic and embarrassed Relotius said in an interview with Der Spiegel, which has over 6 million online subscribers.

In his confession to his employer, he said: "It wasn't because of the next big thing".

It's unclear whether Relotius fabricated stories for other major German outlets that published his work, including Cicero and the Financial Times Deutschland.

"My pressure to not be able to fail got ever bigger the more successful I became". In his reporting Relotius had failed to reach out to some of the most prominent people in the story. In 2014, Relotius was warmly welcomed by CNN who named him 'Journalist of the Year'.

The magazine said Relotius "committed his deception intentionally, methodically and with criminal intent".

"All (his) colleagues are deeply shattered", the magazine wrote. Meanwhile, the magazine's management has set up a special investigative commission consisting of what it calls "experienced internal and external persons" to look through all of the journalist's pieces and prepare recommendations to improve "safety mechanisms".

Anderson and Jake Krohn, who co-authored the Medium piece, are receiving global praise for their rebuttal article exposing the fraudulent Der Spiegel story.

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