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Famed US War Photographer Wins Top Spanish Prize

FILE - U.S. photographer James Nachtwey gestures after being awarded the Dresden International Peace Prize in Dresden, Germany, Feb. 11, 2012. He was awarded Thursday Spain's prestigious Princess of Asturias communications and humanities prize.

Famed U.S. war photographer James Nachtwey, a front-line witness to some of the world's most horrifying wars and tragedies in recent history, was Thursday awarded Spain's prestigious Princess of Asturias communications and humanities prize.

Nachtwey was described as an "insightful witness of human suffering,'' in a statement from the Princess of Asturias Foundation prize organizers who classified him as one of the world's most renowned and respected photojournalists and war photographers.

The foundation highlighted Nachtwey's professional commitment and ability to work in conflicts and crises "without renouncing the ethical principles of the reporter or adorning what the camera sees.''

The 68-year-old, of Syracuse, NY., started work as a newspaper photographer in New Mexico in 1976, and in 1980, moved to New York to begin a career as a freelance magazine photographer. His first foreign assignment was to cover the conflict in Northern Ireland in 1981.

Nachtwey has been a contract photographer with Time Magazine since 1984 and was a member of Magnum photo agency from 1986 until 2001. He has covered wars and conflicts in Central America, the Middle East and Africa.

On the main page of his website, Nachtwey has written "I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated.''

The site's biographical note says images from the Vietnam War and the American Civil Rights movement had a powerful effect on him and were instrumental in his decision to become a photographer.

The 50,000-euro ($56,000) award is one of eight Asturias prizes handed out yearly by a foundation named for Crown Princess Leonor. Other categories include the arts, sport and scientific research.

They are presented each fall in the northern city of Oviedo.