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Doubts about "Spiegel" reports about the death of a refugee girl

The news magazine Der Spiegel is currently reviewing several articles published in August and September.

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Doubts about "Spiegel" reports about the death of a refugee girl

The news magazine Der Spiegel is currently reviewing several articles published in August and September. The articles were about refugees on the Greek-Turkish border river Evros. But "in the meantime", according to a note that was placed on the website in place of the original article, "there are doubts about the previous description of what happened at the time". The reporting will now be checked. First, the online service "Media Insider" reported on the ongoing investigation.

Specifically, it is about the suspicion that refugees could have invented the death of a girl. "Some original reports had accepted the descriptions of the refugees, who still maintain the death of the girl, as fact." The "Spiegel" was one of these media: On August 10, 2022 the article "Maria, five years old, died on the EU external border”, on August 19 the article “Death trap at the EU border”, on August 27 the article “How the death of five-year-old Maria is changing the refugee debate in Greece” and on September 23 the article “How the case of the 'Evros 38' Greece Splits".

The "Spiegel" correspondents, but also the documentation of the magazine, which checks the truthfulness of the facts, believed the descriptions of the refugees based on their research. However, according to the report by the "media insider", it is not clear whether this girl, five-year-old Maria, really existed and if so, whether she actually died at the border.

The suspicion awakens memories of the fake reports by Claas Relotius, which appeared in "Spiegel" for years and won numerous prizes. Here there was a blatant failure of all control bodies in the "mirror". In contrast to Relotius, in this case it would be about reporters believing a made-up story – and not checking it sufficiently. Relotius, on the other hand, deliberately falsified.

Nevertheless, the new case, which according to "Spiegel" is now being dealt with by various editors from different departments, is extremely delicate. If it were to prove true that the news magazine and its reporters were too gullible, that would be another blow to the trustworthiness of Der Spiegel – and damaging to journalism as a whole.

In the course of December, if possible, the result of the internal investigation should be communicated, according to the “Spiegel” when asked. After the research has been completed, a decision will also be made as to “whether the articles will be published again in a corrected and updated form”.

The posts were removed from the website on November 8th. There were also indications of possible false reporting via a letter from the Greek Minister of Integration to the “Spiegel”. The British TV station Channel 4 is said to have received a similar letter, which also reported. How reliable the information from the Greek government is now also needs to be checked.

However, the fact that the reports were removed from the site at all shows that the "Spiegel" has apparently not yet had sufficient evidence of the authenticity of the story.

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