Germany's Bild under pressure over 'fake news'

Bild said it had seen screenshots of the emails provided by an anonymous source that apparently showed the Russian offering to back Kevin Kuehnert's campaign against a plan by the SPD's leadership to join Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition

Germany's biggest-selling daily Bild came under pressure on Wednesday after a satirical magazine claimed it made up emails published by the newspaper that suggested Russian meddling in German politics.

Bild on Friday ran a story "New dirty campaign at the SPD", pointing to email exchanges purportedly between the chief of the Social Democrats' youth wing, Kevin Kuehnert, and a Russian named "Juri".

The newspaper said it had seen screenshots of the emails provided by an anonymous source that apparently showed the Russian offering to back Kuehnert's campaign against a plan by the SPD's leadership to join Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition.

The daily also quoted another email purportedly from the youth leader saying that the support would be helpful.

At the end of the article, however, Bild said "there is no proof of the authenticity of the emails".

Asked by the newspaper, Kuehnert's spokesman had denied any such email exchanges involving the SPD youth chief. The SPD also said it was filing a possible complaint.

On Wednesday, satire magazine Titanic blasted Bild for falling for its fake emails.

"One anonymous mail, two, three calls and Bild prints everything that fits its agenda," said Titanic online editor Moritz Huertgen.

Bild's chief editor Julian Reichelt defended the decision to print, saying that the paper had gone ahead with the story because the SPD said it would file a complaint.