The “Spiegel” published several articles about refugees at the border river Evros, there was even talk of a dead child. After much criticism, the magazine checked the posts – and decided not to put them back online.
A few months ago, the “Spiegel” reported on the whereabouts of a group of Syrian refugees on the Greek-Turkish border and a girl named Maria, who is said to have died.
The allegations made against the Greek government in several articles weigh heavily. Maria is also no longer alive because the 5-year-old was not helped after a scorpion sting.
“The alleged death of Maria, which was also reported by other media, led to a broad debate in the Greek public. Many saw discrepancies,” the magazine now writes.
A reader, but also the Greek Minister of Migration, Notis Mitarachi, had contacted the newspaper. In a letter from the politician to the “Spiegel” editor-in-chief, it can be read that there has never been a dead child and that the migrants are not on Greek soil.
The news magazine felt compelled to re-examine its own reporting. The result: The “Spiegel” will not take the texts about the refugee group, but especially Maria, online again.
“In view of the source situation, Der Spiegel should have formulated the reports on the whereabouts of the refugees and, above all, the death of the girl much more carefully,” says the current article.
“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 needs to be corrected. Instead, we are publishing the results of our in-depth research here.”
This “in-depth research” deals with two central questions. Were the reported refugees on Greek or Turkish territory? And did the refugee child Maria really exist?
According to “Spiegel”, the first question is so important because the answer to this question decides which state should have helped those seeking protection. The “in-depth research” states: “We did not describe the situation correctly in our article.”
And further: “The Spiegel articles give the impression that the group of refugees was repeatedly stranded on the same Greek island for almost a month.” It can only be specifically proven for a few days where the refugees are actually staying.
However, the representation of the Greek government is also incorrect. “At times, according to Spiegel research, refugees from the group were very well on Greek territory,” says the news magazine report.
But the answer to the second question is probably more emotional. Did Maria, the child who supposedly died from a scorpion sting and whom the Greek authorities failed to help, really exist?
According to the “Spiegel” journalists, this cannot be proven without a doubt. The parents of the 5-year-olds and other eyewitnesses reported to a reporter about the events, including the funeral.
However, in another conversation with “Spiegel”, the parents cannot remember exactly where Maria was buried. And they don’t have any photos that could prove that Maria really existed.
According to the news magazine, several documents only mention four, not five, children in the family.
In addition, according to the “in-depth research”, the picture of the dead child that “Spiegel” has is no proof that the child really died.
It was sent via WhatsApp and does not contain any metadata that would provide information about when and where it was created. “In addition, it is not possible to say whether the girl just closed her eyes or is dead,” the report says.