Oscar-Nominated Syrian Blocked From Attending Awards


A Syrian cinematographer, whose documentary film was nominated for an Academy Award, has been blocked from entering the U.S. after immigration officials found “derogatory information” on the young man, according to reports.

Khaled Khatib, 21, will not be able to attend Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony, where his 40-minute Netflix documentary, “The White Helmets”, has been nominated for “Best Documentary Short.” Khatib is one of three individuals being honored for the film’s cinematography.

Syrian cinematographer, Khaled Khatib, was blocked by immigration officials from entering the United States.

Syrian cinematographer, Khaled Khatib, was blocked by immigration officials from entering the United States.

The Los Angeles Times reports that “derogatory information” is a broad category that can include anything from terror connections to passport irregularities.

When asked by reporters to comment on the ordeal, the Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Gillian Christensen replied, “A valid travel document is required for travel to the United States.”

Reportedly, Khatib was issued a visa in order to attend the award ceremony on Sunday in Los Angeles. However, Turkish authorities detained him earlier this week, according to internal U.S. government officials, and then it was determined he needed a passport waiver from the U.S. to enter the country. The internal source claimed that he would not receive such a waiver, though no explanation was given for his detainment by Turkish authorities, says the report.

Khatib updated the news of his travel plans via Twitter on Saturday, saying he was at an airport for three days because his passport was not accepted, despite having a U.S. visa.

Before he received his visa and his travel debacle ensued, Khatib posted a tweet encouraging people to see the film, which shines a light on the war in Syria. He wrote,  “If I cannot enter the U.S., I will not give up: we know that we have many friends in U.S., that there are people that share our humanitarian values. I look forward to meeting them all one day.”

The Oscar-nominated short film follows the Syrian Civil Defense force and heroes of Aleppo, known as the White Helmets, who risk their lives to save thousands of Syrians affected by civil war.

“The White Helmets” includes emblematic scenes of the deadly 6-year-old conflict: people digging through destroyed homes looking for survivors, at constant risk of ‘double tap’ attacks that target first responders after they’ve arrived at the scene of a strike.

H/T: Los Angeles Times


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