A Serbian magazine has retracted an article saying U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump apologized for the U.S. role in the 1999 bombing of former Yugoslavia.
The Serbian weekly Nedeljnik said it likely was duped into publishing a now-discredited interview with a Trump campaign official in which Trump also supposedly pledged a new policy toward the Balkans if he's elected president.
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia reined in Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and led to the end of the Kosovo war. Bill Clinton, husband of Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, was president during the Yugoslav war.
NATO's bombing campaign killed hundreds of civilians but also ended ethnic cleansing in parts of the former Yugoslavia.
In a statement, the Trump campaign said the interview saying he apologized for the bombing was a "hoax" -- a possibility the magazine conceded after Trump challenged its original sensational article, which was picked up widely in the U.S. media covering the presidential campaign.
"Mr. Trump never gave an interview to the Serbian weekly magazine Nedeljnik, as falsely reported by the discredited Newsweek, nor was such an interview conducted through our Indiana State Director [Suzanne Ryder Jaworowski]," said Jason Miller, the Trump campaign's senior communications adviser.
"This was a hoax and we look forward to receiving a formal retraction and apology from all involved.”
Within hours, the magazine in a front-page editorial apologized, admitted it likely was duped, and retracted the article.
Nedeljnik admitted that its supposed "interview" was conducted by e-mail through an intermediary and it had not thoroughly checked it to ensure the legitimacy of answers it believed it had received to its e-mailed questions from the Trump campaign.
The magazine said it submitted questions by e-mail to a Serbian-American man named Vladimir Rajcic, an actor who lives in Chicago, who said he was helping advise the Trump campaign.
Some weeks after submitting the questions, Nedeljnik’s managing editor, Marko Prelevic, said he received answers via e-mail that were supposedly from Jaworowski, Trump's Indiana operative.
In a statement on October 13, Jaworowski said she did not take part in an e-mail interview.
"Regarding the article about a media interview with a Serbian politician and Mr. Trump via my e-mail, this is completely false. I have never served as a conduit to interview Mr. Trump for anyone," Jaworowski said.
The magazine admitted it might have been duped by Rajcic, who could not be immediately reached for comment.
With reporting by Nedeljnik, Buzzfeed.com, and Politico.com