German minister accused of plagiarising thesis
Germany's most popular minister Wednesday denied he was guilty of plagiarising his doctoral thesis as his former university announced a probe into accusations made in a daily paper.
Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg dismissed claims made in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that he had copied entire passages without attribution in his law dissertation in 2007, for which he received top marks.
"The accusation that my doctoral thesis was plagiarised is absurd," the aristocratic 39-year-old in a statement.
Earlier Wednesday, the Sueddeutsche cited Andreas Fischer-Lescano, a professor of law, as saying there were enough unattributed passages to speak of "brazen plagiarism."
Felix Hanschmann, another law professor, told AFP after studying the text: "There are a number of authors he has not cited, in parts the plagiarism stretches over more than an entire page."
The University of Bayreuth, where the minister completed his thesis, said it was looking into the allegations.
"We are now examining whether this accusation is justified," said the head of the university's legal department, Markus Moestl.
However, zu Guttenberg's old tutor rode to his rescue, telling the mass circulation daily Bild: "This work was not plagiarised. It was comprehensively checked by me over several tutorial sessions."
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman told a regular news conference that she was "interested" in the matter but believed it was "prudent to wait for the outcome of the investigation."
Zu Guttenberg's spokesman noted at the same news conference that Fischer-Lescano had close ties to Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which itself has links to the opposition Social Democratic Party.
"But I do not want to insinuate anything," he said.
© 2011 AFP