Syrian-Born ‘The White Helmets’ Cinematographer Not Allowed to Enter Country for Oscars

U.S. officials have found “derogatory information” about Khaled Khateeb, according to AP

The Syrian-born cinematographer of the Oscar-nominated “The White Helmets” won’t be able to attend Sunday’s awards after being barred him from entering the country, according to the Associated Press.

“The White Helmets” is nominated for Best Documentary Short, but 21-year-old cinematographer Khaled Khateeb can’t travel to Los Angeles, according to internal Trump administration correspondence, obtained by the AP, stating the Department of Homeland Security won’t allow him in the country.

Khateeb was scheduled to arrive Saturday in Los Angeles on a Turkish Airlines flight departing from Istanbul, according to the AP, but U.S. officials have reported finding “derogatory information” regarding the cinematographer.

“A valid travel document is required for travel to the United States,” Homeland security spokesperson Gillian Christensen told the AP when asked what “derogatory information” pertains to Khateeb.

Last week, rescue workers depicted in “White Helmets” obtained U.S. visas so they’d be able to attend the Academy Awards on Sunday night.

Although Raed Saleh, leader of the group, and Khateeb, received their visas, the film’s producer Joanna Natasegara said they remained “cautious about the physical part of entering the country.”

It turns out Natasegara was correct to be skeptical.

Donald Trump’s now suspended executive order banning foreign nationals from seven countries — including Syria — had put into question if the subjects of the documentary would be prevented from entering the U.S. for the ceremony. Sadly for Khateeb, it appears he will be a victim of the Department of Homeland Security’s vetting process.

The film follows members of the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, a civilian group that rushes to provide aid when bombs fall or a civilian neighborhood is attacked. They have been credited with saving upwards of 75,000 lives while risking their own during bloody battles of Syrian civilians under attack by the Assad government, ISIS and the Russian military.

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