Dhe “Spiegel” has examined its reporting from last summer about the whereabouts of a group of Syrian refugees on the Greek-Turkish border and in particular about the alleged death of a girl named “Maria”. The magazine had written in several articles that the girl had died of a scorpion sting and that the Greek authorities had not rushed to help the refugees. Doubts arose about the portrayal, research by other journalists, also documented in the FAZ, raised the question of whether the story of the dead girl had not been invented in order to underline the dramatic situation of the group. There were several indications of this and the “Spiegel” has now come to the same conclusion.
One should have “formulated much more carefully”
“In view of the sources,” says the report by the research team on spiegel.de, “Der Spiegel should have worded the reports on the whereabouts of the refugees and, above all, the death of the girl much more carefully. Even if there is no final proof, there are some indications that some of the refugees could have invented the death in their desperation. Maybe they thought that they would finally be saved.”
The research team dealing with the story follows the course of the research of the “Spiegel” employee Giorgos Christedes, whose name the magazine does not name, in every single step. First of all, it is about the whereabouts of the refugees, of which it was questionable whether it was on Greek or Turkish territory and whether the group of refugees was in one and the same place for days.
Situation “not correctly described”
The bottom line here is that “the situation was not correctly described in our article”. The posts gave the impression that “the group of refugees had been repeatedly stranded on the same Greek island for almost a month. However, the migrants were not always on the same island, nor were they always on Greek soil. In fact, it can only be proven for a few days exactly where the refugees were.”
However, continues Der Spiegel, the Greek government’s account “does not correctly reflect what happened. At times, according to Spiegel research, refugees from the group were indeed on Greek territory – and the Greek police could probably have found them there without any problems.”
Baidaa S. declines a conversation
According to its own account, the “Spiegel” spoke to the parents Maryam B. and Mohammad A. about the allegedly deceased girl Maria, who may have been invented. They stuck to their account that one of their daughters had died. However, according to the magazine, there is no clear evidence of this, not for the alleged death, not for the existence of the girl, in several places, in documents and according to a witness, there is talk of four, not five children of the family . Two other witnesses also stuck to the account that a girl had died on the border river Evros. Baidaa S., the young woman who sent the dramatic videos claiming that a girl had died, now lives in Rhineland-Palatinate and is married to a Syrian living in Germany. He said Baidaa S. would reject another conversation with “Spiegel”. After evaluating photos taken by the refugees themselves, the research team found: “Maryam B. was only ever photographed with four of her alleged five children.”
All in all, the “Spiegel” finds many errors in its own presentation and comes to the conclusion: “We will no longer put the earlier articles on the Maria case on the online site – not even in a revised version. Too much of it would have to be corrected.” Instead, the results of the “in-depth research” are published.