Canadian journalist suspended over 'fabricated' stories

A journalist was suspended from several roles in Canada's French-speaking media after allegations that he embellished reports from conflict zones

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A prominent journalist was suspended Saturday from several roles in Canada's French-speaking media after allegations that he made up or embellished reports from conflict zones over the last 20 years.

Groupe Media, which owns the TVA television network, said it was taking foreign correspondent Francois Bugingo, 41, off the air after the allegations surfaced earlier in the day.

In its Saturday edition, La Presse newspaper published a detailed investigation of Bugingo's reports in Bosnia, Libya and Somalia, saying they were fabricated.

According to La Presse, Congo-born Bugingo had acknowledged in a recent interview that he had never been to Misrata in Libya, contrary to reports he had filed.

TVA said it was taking the allegations seriously and had suspended Bugingo while it looks into the claims.

Bugingo was a contributor to TVA and "not an employee of Groupe Media," it stressed in a statement.

The media company Cogeco also suspended Bugingo, who was on a show about international politics on 98.5 FM radio that boasts the best listening figures in Quebec.

Le Journal de Montreal and Le Journal de Quebec, for whom he worked freelance, have also suspended Bugingo.

On his Facebook page, Bugingo said he was "stunned" by the revelations in La Presse and maintained that the information he reported was "always verified and solid."

The Professional Federation of Quebec Journalists, of which Bugingo is a member, said that the claims against him are likely to "tarnish the credibility of the journalistic profession."

The FPJQ added that it had invited the reporter to explain himself.