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Orlando von Einsiedel, The White Helmets, 2016.

Syrian Cinematographer of Oscar-Nominated Documentary Denied Entry to US

Soon after last month’s report that Oscar-nominated director Asghar Farhadi would be prevented from attending the 2017 Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles due to Trump’s overreaching travel ban, CBS News reports that US immigration officials have prevented a twenty-one-year-old Syrian cinematographer named Khaled Khateeb—who worked on a short documentary film about his country’s ongoing civil war, titled The White Helmets (2016), which has been nominated for an Academy Award—from entering the US for the ceremony tomorrow.

Khateeb was scheduled to arrive today in Los Angeles on a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul, but he was not allowed in after officials reported finding “derogatory information” regarding Khateeb. Derogatory information is a broad category that can include anything from concrete evidence of connections to terrorist organization to mere passport irregularities. Asked for comment on the matter, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, Gillian Christensen, only said, “A valid travel document is required for travel to the United States.” Khateeb had been issued a visa to attend the ceremony, but Turkish authorities detained him this week, according to internal US government correspondence, and he was then required to get a passport waiver from the United States to enter the country. The correspondence indicated he would not receive such a waiver, but there was also no explanation for why Turkey detained Khateeb in the first place. Khateeb has said he is currently in Istanbul and has claimed he was not been detained.

The White Helmets, a British production directed by Orlando von Einsiedel, is nominated in the category of Best Documentary Short at the Oscars this year. Khateeb is one of three people credited for cinematography on the film, which focuses on the rescue workers who aid Syrians affected by the civil war. Many of the group’s members have been killed by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, and the group was nominated for last year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

To coincide with the Oscars ceremony this year, Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, will stage a public screening of Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-nominated film, The Salesman (2016), in Trafalgar Square on February 26.

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