The Associated Press has “ended its ties” with a freelance photographer after it came to light that he digitally altered a photograph taken last September in Syria.
Photographer Narciso Contreras used editing software to eliminate a colleague’s camera from his photograph of a Syrian opposition fighter, the AP said Wednesday. The AP did not find any other altered images among the hundreds of photographs Contreras submitted to the agency, but it scrubbed his work from its public archives regardless.
“AP’s reputation is paramount and we react decisively and vigorously when it is tarnished by actions in violation of our ethics code,” said AP Vice President and Director of Photography Santiago Lyon in a blog post about the incident. “Deliberately removing elements from our photographs is completely unacceptable.”
In a separate AP news story about the incident, Contreras said he “took the wrong decision” when he edited the photo.
“You can go through my archives and you can find that this is a single case that happened probably at one very stressed moment, at one very difficult situation, but yeah, it happened to me, so I have to assume the consequences,” said Contreras.
Contreras was part of a group of five photojournalists whose work earned the AP a Pulitzer Prize last year. TIME has featured Contreras’s work in the past.