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AP severs ties with Pulitzer-winning photographer for ethics breach

Narciso Contreras / AP

A Syrian opposition fighter takes cover during an exchange of fire with government forces in Telata village, a frontline located at the top of a mountain in the Idlib province countryside of Syria, on Sept. 29, 2013. In the original image (top photo), a fellow journalist's video camera is visible on the ground in the left corner of the frame. Freelance photographer Narciso Contreras altered the image (lower photo) by "cloning" other pieces of the background and pasting them over the camera, before sending it to an AP photo desk. The Associated Press has severed ties with the freelance photographer, who it says violated its ethical standards by altering the photo.

The Associated Press has ended its relationship with a freelance photographer after he alerted editors that he manipulated a photograph taken for the wire service. The photographer, Narciso Contreras, digitally removed a camera from the corner of the image above, taken during his time in Syria in September 2013. The AP responded to the incident in a blog post:

“AP’s reputation is paramount and we react decisively and vigorously when it is tarnished by actions in violation of our ethics code,” said Vice President and Director of Photography Santiago Lyon. “Deliberately removing elements from our photographs is completely unacceptable and we have severed all relations with the freelance photographer in question. He will not work for the AP again in any capacity.”

Contreras is one of five photojournalists whose images of the Syrian civil war earned AP the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography in 2013, before the photo above was taken.