The editors of Der Spiegel intend to file a criminal complaint against Claas Relotius, the once-celebrated reporter who resigned after admitting he falsified stories.
In an article published Saturday night, the editors said they are gathering evidence to present to prosecutors because they discovered that Relotius had created a fundraising campaign which appeared to have been an embezzlement scheme.
According to the magazine, Relotius contacted Der Spiegel readers from his private email address, soliciting donations to benefit two Syrian orphans in Turkey he had previously written about. However, Relotius not only fabricated multiple elements of that article — including the existence of one of the orphans — but also instructed donors to send the money to his personal bank account, the editors said.
Der Spiegel said it did not know how many people donated, or how much money Relotius collected. Relotius has made no public statements since his history of fabricating stories came to light. Attempts by TheWrap to contact Relotius were unsuccessful.
On Thursday, Der Spiegel’s editors published a lengthy apology for having published Relotius’ falsified stories.
“Claas Relotius wrote many seemingly excellent reportages for DER SPIEGEL, but unfortunately most of them apparently contain fabricated passages,” the website’s incoming editor-in-chief Steffen Klusmann and current deputy editor-in-chief Dirk Kurbjuweit said in a joint statement. “We are deeply sorry about what has happened. We have a large readership which can now be forgiven for wondering if DER SPIEGEL should still be trusted.”