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Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto accused of plagiarizing law school thesis

FILE - In this July 22, 2016 file photo, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto speaks during a news conference with President Barack Obama in the East Room of the White House in Washington. A new poll published Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016 photo by the newspaper Reforma, suggests approval ratings for the Mexican leader have fallen to 23 percent, while 74 percent disapprove of the job he is doing. The level is the lowest since Pena Nieto took office in December 2012, when he got a 42-percent approval rating in the same poll. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

FILE - In this July 22, 2016 file photo, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto speaks during a news conference with President Barack Obama in the East Room of the White House in Washington. A new poll published Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016 photo by the newspaper Reforma, suggests approval ratings for the Mexican leader have fallen to 23 percent, while 74 percent disapprove of the job he is doing. The level is the lowest since Pena Nieto took office in December 2012, when he got a 42-percent approval rating in the same poll. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)  (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu)

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto heavily plagiarized the thesis for his law degree, according to an investigation by a local news outlet.

Aristegui Noticias on Sunday published an online report based on an analysis of the embattled president's thesis by a group of academics, which it said was then corroborated by the news outlet.

It said 29 percent of the thesis was material lifted from other works, including 20 paragraphs copied word-for-word from a book written by former President Miguel de la Madrid without citation or mention in the bibliography.

A spokesman for Peña Nieto responded Sunday that the president had completed all requirements for his law degree and downplayed the relevance of "style errors" in academic work done 25 years earlier.

Peña Nieto did not mention the controversy on Monday as he spoke in front of students at his old elementary school in Toluca to inaugurate the first day of the new school year Monday,.

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The thesis titled "Mexican Presidentialism and Alvaro Obregon" was submitted in 1991 to the Panamerican University.

The news website is run by journalist Carmen Aristegui, who in 2014 reported that Peña Nieto's wife was purchasing a house with financing from a government contractor. The first lady eventually gave up the house and in recent months Peña Nieto has said he understands why the so-called "White House" scandal upset so many Mexicans.

Several months after that investigation was published Aristegui was fired by the radio station where her investigative team worked. They have since re-emerged online.

A poll by the national newspaper Reforma this month found Peña Nieto's approval rating at 23 percent, the lowest rating for any president since it began the survey in 1995. The margin of error was 3.3 percentage points.

It's not the first time that Peña Nieto's academic rigor has been called into question.

When he was a candidate for the presidency in 2011, Peña Nieto stumbled when asked to name three books that influenced him. He managed the Bible, before fumbling through other mismatched authors and titles.

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