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Oscar-nominated Syrian cinematographer denied entry into U.S. to attend ceremony

Still from the Oscar-nominated documentary "The White Helmets." February 25, 2017. (Image source: 60 Minutes)

The United States has denied Syrian Khaled Khateeb entry into the country to attend Sunday's Oscar Awards show, despite the nomination of a documentary he helped produce called "The White Helmets."

Khateeb was scheduled to arrive in California Sunday, but was detained by Turkish authorities this week with little official information offered as to the reason for his retention. He was reportedly issued a visa to attend Sunday's awards show. However, the Associated Press reported that internal U.S. government correspondence indicated that he was not granted a special passport waiver from U.S. authorities that is required for his entry.

"A valid travel document is required for travel to the United States," a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security told the AP. Internal Trump administration correspondence uncovered by the AP indicated the Department of Homeland Security made the decision to ultimately deny Khateeb entry.

According to the AP, U.S. officials reported finding "derogatory information" with regard to Khateeb. "Derogatory information is a broad category that can include anything from terror connections to passport irregularities," the AP reported.

Khateeb helped work on the film "The White Helmets," a 40-minute Netflix documentary that has been nominated for best documentary short. Should it win an Oscar, director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara will be given the award. Khateeb is credited as a cinematographer on the film.

The AP reports that the film explores the role of an all-volunteer rescue team whose members risk their lives to save Syrians citizens living amidst the country's civil war. Many of the film's subjects have lost their lives to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's air forces. The White Helmets were nominated for a 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.

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