December 24, 2018
Claas Relotius, an award-winning reporter who faked many of his heart-wrenching stories, is facing a criminal probe over a money collection for Syrian children. It is believed that one of the purported beneficiaries did not exist.
Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine has filed a criminal complaint against Relotius after it emerged that the reporter not only falsified quotes and invented entire passages in his stories, but may also have swindled some impressionable readers out of their money.
The magazine reported that it was contacted by readers who said that Relotius used his private email account to set up a fundraising campaign for the Syrian orphans who featured in his ‘King’s Children’ report, dating back to July 2016.
The journalist reportedly encouraged readers to make donations to him so he could give the money to those kids, who were said to be affected by poverty in Turkey.
Der Spiegel stated that the magazine was not aware of the scheme, which has only now been brought to light, as no readers had contacted it at the time of the fundraiser. It is still unclear what happened to any donations made under the scheme, or how much was involved. Relotius claimed that he had managed to bring the children to Germany, where they were adopted by a doctor’s family.
However, this “is apparently fiction,” the magazine said.
Steffen Klusmann, Der Spiegel’s designated editor-in-chief, said that the funds “most likely never reached those they were intended for,” as he apologized to readers for failing to control the reporter.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The ‘King’s Children’ report tells the story of Alin and her brother Ahmed, who were forced to flee to Turkey after their parents perished in Aleppo. In order to survive, the children worked long hours at low-paying jobs and lived in dismal conditions.
Relotius claimed to have spoken to both siblings, who…