An award-winning journalist has left Europe's top-selling news magazine in disgrace after admitting that much of his work was fiction, not fact. Reporter and editor Claas Relotius, 33, resigned from Der Spiegel after the deception was uncovered and he confessed, the Guardian reports. The German magazine says Relotius "falsified his articles on a grand scale and even invented characters." It says he "committed his deception intentionally, methodically, and with criminal intent." Der Spiegel says Relotius admitted faking parts of 14 out of 60 stories for the magazine, but all of his work at the magazine and elsewhere is now under suspicion. The magazine says that after he was confronted with evidence and confessed, Relotius said, "I am sick and need to get help."
CNN—which gave Relotius its German-language Journalist of the Year award in 2014 but never published anything by him—reports that the development has deeply shaken the 71-year-old magazine. Der Spiegel says Relotius was exposed by a fellow journalist who became suspicious about details in a story about the US-Mexico border they had worked on together. Juan Moreno, whose colleagues were very reluctant to believe his allegations, discovered that two alleged sources quoted by Relotius had never spoken to him, and Relotius had lied about seeing a "Mexicans keep out" sign. Relotius was also found to have invented details and quotes in stories about Colin Kaepernick and Guantanamo Bay, among others. (A hoaxster who got a fake obituary published in the New York Times died for real this year.)