'White Helmets' Cinematographer Blocked From Oscars Due to Travel Ban
One of the two members of the Syrian civil defense unit the White Helmets that planned on attending Sunday’s Academy Awards has been blocked from entering the U.S.
Twenty-one-old cinematographer Khaled Khateeb – who was set to join White Helmets leader Raed Saleh at the Oscars, where The White Helmets is nominated in the Best Documentary (Short Subject) category – was scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles on Saturday.
However, the Department of Homeland Security blocked Khateeb from entering the United States, citing “derogatory information” about the cinematographer, the Associated Press reports, a vague term that could be applied to everything from terrorist threats to a passport irregularity.
Although Khateeb has received a visa to visit America for the Oscars, internal Trump administration correspondence viewed by the AP shows that Homeland Security prevented Khateeb’s passage, with the Syrian stopped en route in Turkey and told he needed a “passport waiver” to continue on to America. The U.S denied that waiver.
Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Gillian Christensen told the AP about Khateeb’s case, “A valid travel document is required for travel to the United States.”
On Friday, Saleh also revealed that he would not be attending the Oscars, but that was due to his Nobel Peace Prize-nominated rescue efforts and not the travel ban, Al Jazeera reports.
“Regretfully we won’t be at the OSCARS due to intensity of work, our priority continues to be helping civilians & rescue operations in #Syria,” Saleh tweeted.
The White Helmets director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara will represent the film at Sunday’s ceremony.
In January, The Salesman director Asghar Farhadi, nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category, announced he would skip the Oscars over Trump’s travel ban. The filmmakers in the Foreign Language Film category penned a joint statement Friday decrying the “nationalism and fanaticism” currently sweeping the U.S.
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