“What was done was done out of desperation – to pay rent, electricity, food, and to live,” Bjørn Benkow said in a press release published on Sunday in the Norwegian Verdens Gangs Web site, according to Dagens Nyheter.
“The answer is not black and white,” he said. “I have met and talked with these world celebrities. But the circumstances and time have not always been as I have written,” he said, adding that need of money and poor health were causes for his lies.
He bade apology to his colleagues and readers saying, “Forgive me, I knew what I was doing.”
The article, which was originally published in the Norwegian magazine Mann, then partially reproduced in Aftonbladet, was based on what Benkow called a chance encounter with the world’s richest man on a regular flight between Munich and London in June.
“My head explodes every time I hear about someone giving away something for free,” Benkow reported Gates as having said.
Microsoft said the interview with Gates published was a fake, but Aftonbladet stood by its journalist.
Benkow also acknowledged making up interviews with Oprah Winfrey and Michael Schumacher.