WASHINGTON (AP) _ The magazine article was eye-catching. It told about teen-age computer hackers in such demand that they hire agents.

Trouble is, said Charles Lane, editor of The New Republic, the story by Stephen Glass was fiction.

Glass, 25, who has written 40 pieces for the 84-year-old weekly journal, was fired last week after confessing he had ``embellished'' the hacker story, which ran in the magazine's May 18 issue.

Lane said Monday the article was a complete falsehood.

``Steve has not confessed to that but he has confessed to enough things surrounding it, and I have myself established independently that the piece was fiction,'' said Lane, who has been editor for eight months.

He said other articles by Glass that The New Republic has published have ``potential problems,'' although some ``are actually valid, I'm pleased to say.'' Glass has written 40 stories for the magazine since 1995, as well as articles for GQ, Harper's, Rolling Stone and George magazines.

Glass, who earned $45,000 a year, was one of three associate editors listed on The New Republic masthead. He could not be reached for comment. Lane said he had gone to his parents' home in a Chicago suburb.

The article, ``Hack Heaven,'' tells of a 15-year-old hacker named Ian Restil who broke into the computer databases of Jukt Micronics, a ``big-time software firm'' and then demanded money, lifetime subscriptions to pornographic magazines and a sports car when the company tried to hire him.

Lane said he has satisfied himself that the incident was completely fiction.

Prompting Lane's investigation was a call from Adam Penenberg, an editor at Forbes Digital Tool, an online publication of Forbes magazine.

Penenberg said Monday he initially thought he had been scooped ``on an incredible story.'' But when he tried to confirm it, he found that Ian Restil, Jukt Micronics and a National Assembly of Hackers, also mentioned in the story _ do not exist.

``When things didn't check out, and didn't check out, and didn't check out, we realized things were seriously wrong and we had a responsibility to get to the bottom of it,'' added Penenberg, who wrote about it on the Forbes Digital Tool site.

The Washington Post reported on it Monday.

The New Republic has fact checkers to determine the accuracy of articles. But Glass produced handwritten notes that satisfied them, said Lane, calling the notes fabrications.

``If a man is willing to forge notes, it's kind of hard for fact checking to catch it,'' Lane said.