A REMARKABLE RETRACTION….Take a look at this rather extraordinary retraction printed in this week’s Economist. You need to read the whole thing to get the full flavor:

In our article ?Nigerian Scams: Sharia Shenanigans? (December 14th 2002) we reported that Chinonye Obiagwu went on a fund-raising drive through Sweden falsely claiming to be the lawyer for Amina Lawal, a Nigerian woman sentenced to death for adultery, and had received money from people in Sweden on the basis of this false claim. The article also suggested that Mr Obiagwu’s behaviour was comparable to fraudulent Nigerian ?scamsters? and the ?biggest crook of all?, Nigeria’s former dictator, Sani Abacha. This was quite wrong. Mr Obiagwu has never claimed to be Ms Lawal’s sole legal representative and has never sought or received any money from anyone in Sweden or anywhere else in respect of Ms Lawal’s case.

Mr Obiagwu is a respected human-rights lawyer working both in Nigeria and internationally and is National Co-ordinator of the Legal Defence and Assistance Project in Lagos. As part of his activities in promoting the cause of human rights in Nigeria, Mr Obiagwu is a member of a group of lawyers who provide legal insight and other support to Ms Lawal’s case. Mr Obiagwu was in Sweden at the invitation of a Swedish non-governmental organisation to give seminars on impunity and Sharia law.

The Economist apologises to Mr Obiagwu and deeply regrets any embarrassment or distress caused to him by the article. The Economist also regrets the delay in publishing this apology.

This is remarkable. It’s not just a misquotation, or an incorrect fact or figure, it’s an admission that, basically, the entire story was made up out of whole cloth.

As usual for these kinds of things, the Economist corrects what it said but doesn’t explain just how this all happened or why it took four months to print the apology. I’ll bet there’s an interesting story of some kind behind that.

UPDATE: Ah, here’s the background. Sounds like almost bloglike sloppiness on the part of the Economist.

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