Europe

Merkel: False rape claim shows need for fake news wariness

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and the Prime Minister of Lithuania, Saulius Skvernelis, right, shake hands after a joint press conference as part of a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and the Prime Minister of Lithuania, Saulius Skvernelis, right, shake hands after a joint press conference as part of a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)  (The Associated Press)

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and the Prime Minister of Lithuania, Saulius Skvernelis, left, address the media during a joint press conference as part of a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and the Prime Minister of Lithuania, Saulius Skvernelis, left, address the media during a joint press conference as part of a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)  (The Associated Press)

Chancellor Angela Merkel says a rapidly debunked story that a German soldier serving as part of a NATO mission in Lithuania raped a teenage girl shows the need to be vigilant about fake news.

Following talks with Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis in Berlin, Merkel was asked about the rape claim, which was made last week in an anonymous email to a Lithuanian lawmaker and media outlets, and quickly investigated and found to be fake.

Merkel says "for us it was important that it could be quickly cleared up."

Lithuanian authorities have suggested Russia may have invented the claim to discredit the new NATO force on its borders.

Merkel didn't speculate, but said "it shows we need to remain very vigilant about the possibility of false reports."