September 2, 2016 / 5:06 AM / a year ago

Accused of plagiarizing thesis, Mexican president cites methodology flaw

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto gives a speech next to Paraguay's President Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara (not pictured) during an official welcoming ceremony, at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico August 26, 2016.Henry Romero

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Widely derided after a report that he plagiarized nearly a third of his university law thesis, President Enrique Pena Nieto conceded on Thursday that he may have made a "methodological error".

Speaking at an unscripted question-and-answer forum at his ceremonial palace in downtown Mexico City, Pena Nieto said he had not intended to steal anyone else´s ideas when he compiled his 1991 thesis about Mexico´s presidency.

When the story by one of Mexico's leading investigative journalists broke last month, Pena Nieto´s spokesman Eduardo Sanchez dismissed the reported plagiarism as "style errors".

"I can remember my studies well, remember how I researched, and what I put forward in my thesis. Nobody can tell me that I plagiarized my thesis," Pena Nieto said. "I may have misquoted or not quoted well one of the authors consulted - it may well be."

"I may have committed some methodological error," he added. "But in no way did I want to appropriate the ideas of others."

In late August, Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui reported that 28.9 percent of the president's 200-page thesis, titled 'Mexican Presidentialism and Alvaro Obregon,' were found to be plagiarized.

The plagiarism report was one of a series of blows that Pena Nieto has been forced to fight off, after he, his wife and his finance minister were enveloped in a series of conflict of interest scandals.

Reporting by Natalie Schachar and Jean Luis Arce; Editing by Simon Gardner

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