US 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, the AP reports. According to internal Trump administration correspondence, the Department of Homeland Security decided at the last minute to block Khaled Khateeb from traveling to Los Angeles for the Oscars. Khateeb was scheduled to arrive Saturday on a Turkish Airlines flight departing from Istanbul. But his plans have been upended after US officials reported finding "derogatory information" regarding Khateeb.
Derogatory information is a broad category that can include anything from terror connections to passport irregularities. Khateeb had been issued a visa to attend the Oscars. But Turkish authorities detained him this week, according to the internal US government correspondence, and he suddenly needed a passport waiver from the US to enter the country. Reached by telephone, Khateeb said he was currently in Istanbul and declined to speak further about his situation The White Helmets has been nominated for Best Documentary Short. The film focuses on the rescue workers who risk their lives to save Syrians affected by civil war. The group was nominated for last year's Nobel Peace Prize. (Read more Oscars stories.)