“The White Helmets” cinematographer barred from entering U.S. for Oscars, AP reports

Last Updated Feb 25, 2017 2:32 PM EST

WASHINGTON — U.S. immigration authorities are barring entry to a 21-year-old Syrian cinematographer who worked on a harrowing film about his nation’s civil war, “The White Helmets,” that has been nominated for an Academy Award.

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

Khateeb was scheduled to arrive Saturday in Los Angeles on a Turkish Airlines flight departing from Istanbul. But his plans have been upended after U.S. officials reported finding “derogatory information” regarding Khateeb.

Derogatory information is a broad category that can include anything from terror connections to passport irregularities. Asked for comment, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, 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 Best Documentary Short. If the film wins the Oscar, the award would go to director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara. Khateeb is one of three people credited for cinematography; 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 also was nominated for last year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Syrian civil defense volunteers, known as the White Helmets, search for survivors following a reported government airstrike on the rebel-held neighborhood of Tishrin, on the northeastern outskirts of the capital Damascus, on Feb. 22, 2017.

Msallam Abdalbaset/AFP/Getty…

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