Speaking to the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, Guttenberg admitted that he had used other texts as sources for the piece. However, he pointed out that it had not been an academic work but a foreign policy paper. “Self evidently existing sources were used, which were simply intended to back up the political opinion,” he said.
However, members of the GuttenPlag platform, a website dedicated to uncovering plagiarism, accused the aristocratic former minister of using similar methods to those he employed in his 2006 doctoral thesis. The plagiarism activists told Welt am Sonntag that they had found passages lifted from newspaper articles, EU papers and parliamentary documents on 13 of the 23 pages of the paper.
The paper entitled “Relations between Turkey and the EU – a ‘privileged partnership'” appeared in a magazine published by the Hanns Seidel Foundation, which has links to Guttenberg's party, the Bavaria-based Christian Social Union (CSU). Guttenberg said that the essay had been prepared with the help of employees in his parliamentary office and was originally intended as an internal party paper.
Nine months ago Guttenberg, savaged in the press as "zu Googleberg," resigned as defence minister after it emerged that passages of his doctoral thesis were the work of other authors. The University of Bayreuth then rescinded his doctoral title.
Last month he appeared to be staging the beginning of a comeback with a speech in Canada lambasting European politicians, prompting some in his former party to revive calls for his return to the political stage.
German prosecutors had investigated the baron for violating copyright but closed their case against him in November after he donated €20,000 ($26,800) to a children's cancer charity. The disgraced politician has always insisted that he had lost the overview of his dissertation and had not intended to plagiarize.
However, the GuttenPlag activists claim that the latest incident shows a pattern. "It now appears that this text montage principle, which was a mark of the dissertation, had already been shown to be a basic work characteristic in this article," they said in a statement to the Welt am Sonntag.