18 February 2011 Last updated at 11:16 GMT German 'plagiarism' minister Guttenberg drops PhD The defence minister was in Afghanistan on an unannounced visit as further accusations emerged Continue reading the main story German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has temporarily renounced his PhD following accusations of plagiarism. German media allege several passages of his 2006 thesis were lifted from other people's work. The minister has vehemently denied the claims but says he will drop the title while they are investigated. Chancellor Angela Merkel had offered to support him if he explained his actions and apologises, reports say. Mr zu Guttenberg has come under intense pressure because of the claims from the media and political opponents. The charismatic 39-year-old minister with an aristocratic background, seen as a possible successor to Angela Merkel as chancellor, had managed to avoid the public glare on Thursday because of an unannounced visit to northern Afghanistan. But on his return, he cancelled a trip to an election rally in Saxony-Anhalt, shortly before he was due to give a speech. Mr zu Guttenberg says his PhD thesis was all his own work Instead, he was called to a meeting with Mrs Merkel in Berlin to discuss the swirl of allegations which has led to the ZDF television website dubbing him "Zu Copyberg", Financial Times Deutschland naming him "Baron Cut-and-Paste", and Berlin daily Tageszeitung nicknaming him "Zu Googleberg". The popular minister rejected as "absurd" initial reports in the Suddeutsche Zeitung that one passage was copied word for word from a newspaper article and another was taken from a public lecture, without attribution. Spiegel magazine reported that the minister had also used a paragraph from the US Embassy website without attribution and the list of alleged instances of plagiarism has continued to grow as journalists and internet-users pore over its contents. "The writing of the dissertation was my own work," Mr zu Guttenberg said. But the University of Bayreuth, where he completed his PhD on constitutional developments in the US and EU, has given him a fortnight to respond to the allegations in writing. The affair erupted when a law professor from Bremen University began writing a review of the thesis, with the aid of the internet. The opposition Social Democrats have warned that if the allegations of plagiarism are found to be true then the defence minister will have to stand down because of the damage to his credibility.