Der Spiegel Suspends Two Senior Editors Amid Investigation Into Fake News

Editor-in-chief Ullrich Fichtner and chief editor Matthias Geyer have been suspended, as evidence is gathered in Claas Relotius case

Last Updated: December 29, 2018 @ 6:54 PM

The weekly German news publication Der Spiegel has suspended two senior editors amid an investigation into one of its top reporters fabricating news stories, according to an internal memo obtained by AFP Friday and reported by Business Insider.

Ullrich Fichtner and Matthias Geyer — editor-in-chief and chief editor, respectively — have been suspended, but will remain until the magazine’s internal commission has completed its investigation into Claas Relotius, the once-celebrated reporter who resigned after admitting he falsified many of his stories, according to the memo written by another Der Spiegel editor-in-chief, Steffen Klusmann.

“The Relotius affair raises the question as to whether [Fichtner and Geyer] can continue in their jobs after such a disaster,” Klusmann wrote in a memo and AFP picked up. “The first discovered it for Der Spiegel, the second hired him and was until recently his superior. We could now hold to account anyone who has dealt with Mr Relotius, and that could continue up to the top of the hierarchy.”

A spokesperson for Der Spiegel didn’t immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

A colleague who worked with Relotius on a story for Der Spiegel was suspicious of his reporting and flagged it for their supervisors. After initially denying the accusations, Relotius admitted that he fabricated facts in at least 14 stories published in the German news magazine, BBC News reported. One such story Relotius had created was a fundraising campaign which appeared to have been an embezzlement scheme. Relotius subsequently resigned on Dec. 19.

“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,” Klusmann and current deputy editor-in-chief Dirk Kurbjuweit said in a joint apology posted to the news site earlier this month.

In an article published Dec. 22, the editors said they intend to press charges and are gathering evidence to present to prosecutors.