Plagiarism ruckus claims German defence minister
Popular politician resigns after doctoral dissertation questioned
Germany's defence minister, a rising star in Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc and the country's most popular politician, has resigned over allegations that he plagiarized his doctoral thesis.
Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg told reporters Tuesday that he felt he could no longer carry out his duties as minister.
"It is the most painful step of my life," Guttenberg told reporters in a hastily convened appearance at his ministry. "Because my office, the Bundeswehr, academia and the parties that support me faced potential damage, I am drawing the consequences that I have — and would have [in the future] — demanded of others."
Guttenberg had admitted "grave mistakes" in his 2007 thesis, but insisted he did not intentionally copy parts of it as has been alleged.
Bayreuth University revoked Guttenberg's doctoral title last week, saying Guttenberg had "seriously violated" its standards by failing to credit sufficiently some of his sources.
The minister has said that he was overwhelmed by writing the thesis while starting a family and launching his political career, and that he had been "arrogant" to believe he could juggle all at the same time.
Merkel has stood by Guttenberg, saying a week ago: "I appointed Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg as defence minister; I wasn't appointing an academic assistant."
But the scandal wouldn't go away. On Monday, Merkel received an open letter from some 23,000 doctoral students and others protesting her decision to keep him.