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'Fake News' Journalist May Be Charged Over Made-Up Stories

German news magazine Der Spiegel says a disgraced journalist it fired for inventing and embellishing stories over a period of several years may face embezzlement charges.

The Hamburg-headquartered magazine, which has been attempting to head off criticism by being transparent about its investigation, said it is filing a criminal complaint against the reporter for allegedly soliciting donations for Syrian orphans in order to enrich himself.

The magazine said in a story published on its website that an investigation into how many people responded to the solicitation and what happened to the money is still under way.

It said it would provided "all the information gathered to the prosecutor's office in the form of a criminal complaint".

The alleged embezzlement was part of a story the 33-year-old journalist wrote about two Syrian children, Ahmed und Alin, who fled to Turkey and were forced to work as a waste picker and a seamstress.

The magazine says parts of it were invented.

Claas Relotius holds his award of the CNN Journalist Award 2014. Image: AAP

The revelations have rocked Germany and made headlines internationally.

The journalist has returned or been stripped of most of the many awards he received for his work.

The Reporter Forum, which had awarded him its journalist prize four times, expressed outrage at the "near-criminal energy" used to deceive the organisers and jurors, themselves usually award-winning journalists.

On Friday, the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, said the revelations were of "great concern" to the United States due to the magazine's alleged anti-American bias.

The journalist also worked for dpa as a freelancer, submitting three long reports from Israel in 2010. These are currently being investigated by dpa.

Featured image: AAP