German defense minister drops PhD permanently for alleged plagiarism

08:21, February 22, 2011      

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German Defense Minister Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg announced late Monday that he gave up his doctorate title permanently, as investigations are going on over his allegedly plagiarizing large parts of his thesis in 2006.

"Over the weekend I had another look at my doctorate thesis," Guttenberg said in an election rally near Frankfurt. "The decision of giving up my doctor title is painful."

"I made mistakes, but they weren't intentional," he told some 900 Christian Democrat supporters in the meeting. "I didn't come here as the self-defense minister."

His spokesman said Guttenberg would stop using his PhD title " permanently."

In Guttenberg's 475-page thesis on the European Union constitution, plagiarism hunters have found over 100 suspect parts that was copied or slightly altered without indicating sources or authors.

They said that a 5-page section matched almost word by word an article on Germany's famous Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper.

The minister's alma mater, the University of Bayreuth, has launched a full-scale investigation on the process of degree award. On Friday, Guttenberg said that he would "temporarily" drop his PhD title until the inquiry was finished. However, no conclusion was released yet by the university.

The plagiarism scandal put Guttenberg, now dubbed "Dr. Googleberg" or " Cut-and- Paste Minister" by German media, under big fire from his political rivals, who urged the resignation of the embattled minister.

"There's a head of government who believes he is above the law because he is a media czar," said Sigmar Gabriel, leader of the Social Democrats (SPD), Germany's main opposition party.

Earlier on Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel, also leader of the Christian Democrats (CDU) expressed her "full confidence" on Guttenberg in Berlin.

"I appointed Guttenberg as defense minister. I didn't appoint him as a research assistant or doctoral student," Merkel said in a press conference.

"What I'm concerned is his work as defense minister, and he is doing pretty well. That is what counts for me," she added.

The 39-year-old Guttenberg was once considered the most popular and promising politician in Germany. However, observers believed that a series of army scandals since December and the plagiarism allegation have damaged his reputation and would seriously slow down his political career.

Source: Xinhua
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