Reporter Claas Relotius quits Der Spiegel magazine for making up stories

The reporter previously worked for other German and Swiss publications and won numerous awards, including CNN Journalist of the Year in 2014.

The fabricated articles include a phone interview with the parents of free agent National Football League player Colin Kaepernick and a story about an American woman who claims to have volunteered to witness the executions of death row inmates.

The subsequent investigation by Der Spiegel into Relotius' activities also uncovered that he fabricated details in another story including a claim that he had seen a sign in a U.S. town that read: "Mexicans keep out". "Claas Relotius faked, he cheated on us all". According to a Q&A also published by the magazine Wednesday, Relotius identified 14 specific stories that included fictional dialogues, "character collages" and other incorrect or misleading details. It also described the situation as "a low point in Der Spiegel's 70-year history".

So far, at least 14 stories out of nearly 60 pieces the journalist wrote for Der Spiegel's print and online editions turned out to contain fake details, the magazine said, adding that that figure might potentially be higher, and warning that other media outlets might also be affected.

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.

The publication said the matter came to light when Relotius' colleague Juan Moreno grew suspicious of the authenticity of an article on an American vigilante group that they were working on.

The Guardian reported that Moreno tracked down sources Relotius quoted in the article, both of whom said they never met Relotius.

"It wasn't because of the next big thing".

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

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

"I tend to want to be in control", Relotius told Der Spiegel, adding that if he wasn't able to report a story to his satisfaction, he felt the urge to create a forgery.

The reporter also wrote for a string of other well-known outlets, including the German newspapers taz, Welt and the Frankfurter Allgemeine's Sunday edition.

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

  • Joey Payne