A Syrian man who helped work on the Oscar-nominated documentary “White Helmets” will not be able Sunday’s ceremony in Los Angeles after he was banned at the last minute by U.S. authorities.
While 21-year-old cinematographer Khaled Khateeb was previously granted a U.S. visa to attend the award ceremony, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security discovered “derogatory information” about him before he left his flight from Istanbul, Turkey to Los Angeles, according to the Associated Press.
According to internal U.S. government communication, Khateeb was detained by Turkish authorities and needs a passport waiver to enter the U.S. No explanation was given for why he was detained and it was indicated that he would not been given a passport waiver.
The category of “derogatory information” could include something as serious as connections to terrorism to something as benign as a complication over travel documentation.
Khateeb is one of three cinematographers who helped to work on the “The White Helmets,” which is nominated for an Oscar for best documentary short. The 40-minute documentary, directed by British director Orlando von Einsiedel, intimately details a team of rescue workers saving civilians in Syria’s brutal civil war.
The White Helmets face the constant risk of death as they attempt to find survivors from regular bombings in Syria. The group was last year nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose film “The Salesman” is nominated for an Oscar for best foreign language film, is also unable to attend the ceremony given U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order banning visitors from Iran, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.