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Austrian EU Commissioner cleared of plagiarism

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(VIENNA) - Vienna University cleared of plagiarism Friday the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, the latest figure in the German-speaking world to be accused of cheating on his doctoral thesis.

The Austrian Agency for Research Integrity (OeAWI), commissioned by Hahn's alma mater to examine his 1987 philosophy dissertation, said the way he cited some sources "would not meet good research practice principles" of today.

But the agency "came to the clear conclusion that there was no plagiarism" by the 53-year-old former Austrian economy minister, the university said in a statement, adding it was dropping its probe.

Hahn was first accused of cheating in 2007 by the self-styled Austrian "plagiarism hunter" Stefan Weber, but Zurich University in Switzerland, asked by Vienna to comb through the thesis, gave the dissertation the all-clear.

But the furore created by the resignation in March this year of the popular Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg as German defence minister for "serious errors" in his dissertation prompted Vienna University to have another look at Hahn's work.

Zu Guttenberg's fall from grace led to several "wiki" collaborative websites springing up to look for other academic cheats in German-speaking countries, where academic titles enjoy considerable kudos.

Other high-profile victims include Silvana Koch-Mehrin, a German MEP once seen as a rising star, and Veronica Sass, daughter of the long-serving former premier of Bavaria and 2002 chancellor candidate Edmund Stoiber.

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