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Spain Ignores U.S., Honors Series On Adoption, Organ Theft

Despite U.S. complaints that the articles are “a damaging fiction,” King Juan Carlos awarded Spain’s top prize for foreign news reporting Monday to a Brazilian journalist’s series on adoptions and alleged organ thefts.

U.S. officials said the stories “perpetuated a myth” that Americans steal children and sell their organs - rumors that have sparked violent attacks on Americans in Latin America.

In a ceremony at his Zarzuela Palace outside Madrid, the king handed the $8,200 Ibero-American Prize to reporter Ana Beatriz Magna de Silva for her seven-part series “Trafficking in Children.”

Magna de Silva, sounding perplexed by the complaints, said she didn’t mention the United States in her investigation of 52 cases of Brazilian children destined for adoption in Germany, France, Italy, Israel and Switzerland.

The prize honors the news story that most promotes understanding among Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking nations.

Washington had tried to persuade Spain’s government to reverse the prize jury’s decision, describing the 1994 series in the Brasilia daily Correio Braziliense as a version of a repeatedly debunked report that has circulated since 1987.

“We are puzzled to find a Western European government with the full facts at hand and the counsel of knowledgeable scientists available to it, associating itself with a dangerous and damaging fiction and thus lending it credibility,” said a statement Monday from the U.S. embassy in Madrid.

The five-member prize jury, whose members include journalists and diplomats from Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Morocco and Israel, reaffirmed its choice after reviewing the U.S. refutation of the articles, said Alfonso S. Palomares, chairman of the state news agency Efe.

The one story on organ theft that appeared in the weeklong series contained references to a Colombian boy’s stolen corneas and other alleged cases the U.S. said “have been repeatedly and authoritatively discredited.”