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Sunday 25 February 2018

Young Syrian behind Oscar-nominated film barred from attending awards

Syrian cinematographer Khaled Khateeb has been barred from entering the US for the Oscars show
Syrian cinematographer Khaled Khateeb has been barred from entering the US for the Oscars show

Immigration authorities have barred a 21-year-old Syrian cinematographer who worked on a harrowing Oscar-nominated film about his nation's civil war from entering the US to attend the Academy Awards show.

According to internal Trump administration correspondence seen by The Associated Press news agency, the Department of Homeland Security decided at the last minute to block Khaled Khateeb from travelling to Los Angeles for the Oscars.

Khateeb was due to arrive in Los Angeles on Saturday on a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul for the Oscars ceremony, where h is film, The White Helmets, has been nominated for an Academy Award.

But his plans have been dashed after US officials reported finding "derogatory information" against him.

Derogatory information is a broad category that can include everything from terror connections to passport irregularities.

Khateeb had been issued a visa to attend the ceremony with Hollywood's biggest stars, but Turkish authorities detained him this week, according to the internal US government correspondence, and he suddenly needed a passport waiver from the United States to enter the country.

The correspondence indicated he would not receive such a waiver.

There was no explanation in the correspondence for why Turkey detained Khateeb.

Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said: "A valid travel document is required for travel to the United States."

The White Helmets, a 40-minute Netflix documentary, has been nominated for a best documentary short Oscar.

If the film wins, the award would go to director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara.

Khateeb is one of three people credited for cinematography and Franklin Dow is the film's director of photography.

The film focuses on the rescue workers who risk their lives to save Syrians affected by civil war.

Many of the group's members have been killed by Syrian president Bashar Assad's air forces.

The group was also nominated for last year's Nobel Peace Prize.

The White Helmets includes emblematic scenes of the deadly six-year-old conflict - people digging through destroyed homes looking for survivors, at constant risk of "double tap" attacks that target first responders after they have arrived at the scene of a strike.


Press Association

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