Award-winning journo exposed as serial fraud

Award-winning journo exposed as serial fraud

Kerry Wise
December 21, 2018

The reporter previously worked for other German and Swiss publications and won numerous awards, including CNN Journalist of the Year in 2014. The articles include award-nominated works like "The last witness", about an American man who allegedly travels to an execution as a witness, "The Lion Children", about two Iraqi children kidnapped and radicalized by ISIS, and "Number 440", a story about alleged prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

Almost everything else, including a coal plant employee named Neil Becker, who doesn't actually exist, or quotes from a restaurant employee, who was falsely called the owner of a restaurant and whose son was given a fictional illness, was made up.

Der Spiegel said the incident marked a "low point in the 70-year history" of the magazine and apologised for his actions.

That's especially true for Spiegel reporter Relotius who mostly wrote about people living overseas and without access to the German magazine. The magazine said it has published nearly 60 articles by Relotius, who wrote his first article for the publication as a freelancer in 2011.

Relotius was sacked, and Der Spiegel is sounding the alarm that the 55 articles they published of his work since 2014 are now being heavily scrutinized.

Relotius had teamed up with Moreno to report on vigilante groups along the U.S. -Mexico border, but Moreno soon began to suspect his colleague of fabricating facts.

"I am sick and I now have to allow myself be helped", Relotius told Der Spiegel in his confession.

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The publication said concerns were first raised in November by a fellow reporter who worked with Relotius on a story about a border militia in Arizona and discovered that supposed interviews had never taken place.

Earlier this month, he was named German Reporter of the Year for a story about a young Syrian boy.

"My pressure to not be able to fail got ever bigger the more successful I became".

According to Relotius' report, many USA prisons are struggling to provide care for long-term inmates suffering from dementia.

Der Spiegel, which apologized to anyone who was inaccurately portrayed in their writer's stories, announced that a committee would investigate the fraud.

"During his time as a freelance journalist, his work got published by other media including Cicero, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag, the Financial Times Deutschland, Die Tageszeitung, Die Welt, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, Weltwoche, Zeit Online and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung", the magazine said.

The Hamburg-based magazine which was founded in 1947 and is renowned for its in-depth investigative pieces, said Relotius had committed journalistic fraud "on a grand scale".