Rape allegations made by a 13-year-old Russian-German girl that sparked condemnation from Moscow over a purported cover-up were fabricated, a spokesman for the state prosecution service in Berlin said Friday.
The girl, who disappeared for 30 hours on January 11-12, claimed that she was abducted and raped by a group of Arab migrants, prompting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to demand further details from Germany amid widely spread allegations of police inaction.
Using reconstructed data from the girl's mobile phone, however, investigators were able to confirm that she spent the night in question at a friend's house.
The 19-year-old man admitted that the girl had been with him that night. Some of her belongings were found in his flat, but there was no evidence of foul play, the spokesman said.
No charges were lodged against the man, who is now acting as a witness in the ongoing investigation, the spokesman said.
The German government previously warned Moscow not to politicize the case, following a storm of allegations across social media, in Russian-language media and at public rallies organized by the Russian community in Berlin.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said Friday that confusion over the case at a national level could have been avoided if the Germany had promptly disclosed the case's details to Russian authorities.
"I would like to say that the situation has been very complicated since the very beginning," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
"However, it became confusing because neither we nor German citizens and family members heard clear comments from representatives of the relevant law enforcement agencies in Germany," Zakharova said.
"We learned about this situation not from our German colleagues, but thanks to the media," she said, adding that the Russian and German foreign ministers planned to discuss the matter by telephone on Friday.
Russian state television's most watched network, Channel One, broke the story of the alleged rape during prime time on January 16 with a report by Berlin correspondent Ivan Blagoy.
Days later a German lawyer, Martin Luithle, told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle that the report might have been based on false information and, if so, was a violation of German law and a possible incitement of racial hatred.
Deutsche Welle quoted the lawyer as saying that the Russian correspondent could face up to five years in prison if he fabricated the story.