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21 December 2018, 12:52 | Tara Lloyd
Claas Relotius, who was once named CNN Journalist of the Year, resigned from his job as a writer and editor at German news magazine Der Spiegel after confessing to purveying fake news on a "grand scale". Moreno also reported his concerns to DER SPIEGEL.
One of his colleagues who was working with Relotius on a story about the situation on the US-Mexican border grew suspicious of some of the details in the journalist's report.
After initially denying the allegations, Relotius confessed last week to inventing entire passages of text in several instances, Der Spiegel says.
Der Spiegel described the revelation a "low point in Spiegel's 70-year history".
"He didn't relent, and he took advantage of a trip to the USA for reporting on another story to gather incriminating information about Relotius - and also in order to take steps to protect himself, given that his byline had also appeared on the article", Der Spiegel said.
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 also drew the fury of locals in Fergus Falls, Minn., after spending three weeks in town and fabricating facts, characters and quotes from people in an effort to portray the town in a negative light. He also made up dialogue and quotes. The only thing that can be stated with certainty right now is that the work in uncovering that has only just begun.
"By his own admission, there are at least 14 articles", the magazine said, adding: "Could that figure actually be considerably higher?" The photo Relotius used is of Doug Becker, who works for UPS and previously ran a fitness center.
Relotius also recounts a number of events that never occurred, including an an iPad for Beginners class at City Hall, a Super Bowl viewing at Union Pizza, a "Western evening" (allegedly attended by Maria and the fictional Neil), and a high school trip to NY.
"I'm so angry, horrified, shocked, stunned", Der Spiegel deputy foreign editor Mathieu von Rohr tweeted Wednesday.
The reporter also wrote for a string of other well-known outlets, including German newspapers taz, Welt and the Frankfurter Allgemeine's Sunday edition.
Further fabrications by Relotius included a phone interview with the parents of American football player Colin Kaepernick, who protested police brutality by kneeling during the pre-game singing of the national anthem, Spiegel said.
"The management of DER SPIEGEL will set up a commission of experienced internal and external persons to investigate the indications of falsification", the magazine said.
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