Editor of Top Swiss Paper Resigns
Jul. 11, 2002
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GENEVA (AP) _ The chief editor of Switzerland's largest newspaper resigned Thursday after a Berlin makeup consultant recanted her published claims of an affair with the Swiss ambassador there.
Mathias Nolte, 49, resigned as editor-in-chief of SonntagsBlick, according to a statement by the paper's owner, the Ringier publishing group.
``The reason for this step is the strained trust relationship resulting from the Borer affair,'' the group said in a statement.
Alexandra Wuerzbach, the paper's Berlin correspondent, also has asked to be released from her contract, the Ringier statement said.
SonntagsBlick and its daily counterpart Blick published a series of articles and photographs in March detailing claims by Djamile Rowe that she had trysts with Thomas Borer at his Berlin residence while his beauty queen wife, Shawne Fielding, was away.
Borer denied the claims but still was recalled as ambassador to Germany in April. He then refused to return to the Swiss capital Bern, choosing instead to resign from the diplomatic service and remain in Germany, where he and Fielding are mainstays of the Berlin party scene.
Last week, Rowe signed a sworn statement in Berlin saying she alleged the affair in return for payment and because she was pressed by Wuerzbach. According to that statement, the reporter told Rowe the newspaper would report the affair ``with or without'' Rowe's agreement and threatened to publish nude photographs of Rowe.
``Because I was under enormous psychological pressure, from Wuerzbach, (Ringier group head) Michael Ringier and his staff, I could see no way out. I was offered a large sum of money and I agreed to go along with the untrue story published in Blick and SonntagsBlick and allow it to be continued,'' Rowe said.
The Ringier group immediately threatened to take legal action against Rowe, saying her claims were ``in irrevocable contradiction with the earlier statements made by Ms. Rowe in various media in Switzerland and abroad and to the affidavit that she gave to Ringier.''
Borer said he was happy Rowe withdrew her story and was waiting for a reaction from the Swiss government.
``I said from the beginning that the story was untrue. My wife and I are relieved that the truth is now coming out,'' he said.
There was no comment from the Swiss foreign ministry.
SonngtagsBlick documented the series with post-midnight photographs showing Rowe parking her car and getting into a limousine that entered the Berlin embassy's garage.
Borer and Fielding _ a career model and former beauty queen who was Miss Dallas in 1992 and Miss Texas in 1994 _ were in the news regularly from the time they were posted to Berlin in 1999. Borer first attracted attention when he went to a party dressed _ in leaves _ as autumn.
A year ago, Fielding provoked a ministry inquiry when she appeared as the ``Cowgirl from the Alps'' in the glossy German magazine Max, clad in a strapless evening dress atop a horse on the embassy steps.
She also caused controversy in Switzerland when she was photographed on the lap of a well-known German rock singer.
Borer told a Swiss television host he was not worried about Fielding's fidelity because the rock star was gay. He later apologized to the singer.
Werner Baumann, the former Swiss ambassador to the Philippines, succeeded Borer in Berlin.