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Disgraced German reporter stripped of awards, returns others

By FRANK JORDANSDecember 20, 2018
The Dec. 19, 2018 photo shows issues of German news magazine Spiegel arranged on a table in Berlin. An award-winning journalist who worked for Der Spiegel, one of Germany’s leading news outlet, has left the publication after being found to have committing what the weekly described Wednesday as journalistic fraud “on a grand scale” over a number of years. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)
The Dec. 19, 2018 photo shows issues of German news magazine Spiegel arranged on a table in Berlin. An award-winning journalist who worked for Der Spiegel, one of Germany’s leading news outlet, has left the publication after being found to have committing what the weekly described Wednesday as journalistic fraud “on a grand scale” over a number of years. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — A German journalist who was found to have made up information for numerous published articles is being stripped of two awards he received in 2014 from CNN International, the broadcaster said Thursday.

In a statement to The Associated Press, CNN International said the independent panel of judges that gave Claas Relotius the “Journalist of the Year” and “Print Journalist of the Year” prizes decided unanimously to rescind the honors following the reporting fraud revelations.

The German Reporters Forum said Relotius contacted the group about returning the four awards it gave him in recent years and to apologize.

German magazine Der Spiegel announced Wednesday that Relotius, who worked for the publication first as a freelancer and later full-time, had fabricated interviews and facts in at least 14 articles.

The fraud, which Spiegel described as “a low point” in its 70-year history, was widely condemned in Germany but also drew rebuke in the United States, where Relotius claimed to have reported many of his articles.

In a lengthy blog post , two Minnesota residents described the suspicions they had about Relotius’ work after he visited the town of Fergus Falls in 2017.

Michele Anderson and Jake Krohn listed what they said were 11 inaccurate claims made by the Spiegel reporter in his article, which focused on the town’s conservative voters following the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Spiegel, one of Germany’s leading news outlets, said it is still investigating the case , including how its fact-checking department failed to spot the yearslong deception by one of the magazine’s star journalists.

Other fabrications included elements of an article about an American woman who Relotius said volunteered to witness the executions of death row inmates and an interview with the parents of quarterback Colin Kaepernick that Spiegel said likely never took place.

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 interviews supposedly conducted for the piece had never taken place.

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