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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Syrian war journalist denied UK visa to attend awards ceremony

Humam Husari has been shortlisted for a Rory Peck Award for his coverage of the conflict in Ghouta

Humam Husari reported from Ghouta, the site of chemical weapons attacks. AP
Humam Husari reported from Ghouta, the site of chemical weapons attacks. AP

A journalist who spent five years covering the Syrian civil war for a British television station has been barred from entering the UK to attend an awards ceremony for which he has been nominated for a prestigious prize.

Humam Husari, a Syrian freelance filmmaker, has been shortlisted for his reporting on the siege of Ghouta earlier this year at the Rory Peck Awards, for which he lived underground with civilians.

But British authorities have refused to grant him a visa on the grounds that there is a risk he will stay in the UK.

Mr Husari, 32, who has worked for ITV News since 2012, filmed video reports from the city of Ghouta including the aftermath of chemical weapons attacks on civilians.

He left Syria this summer with his wife and now lives in Turkey, where he has been offered a job and has paid a year’s rent for accommodation. His wife is enrolled at university in Turkey.

Despite ITV News supplying Britain’s Home Office with proof of his continued residence in Turkey and promising to book the journalist return flights as well as accompany him on his visit to the UK, two separate visa applications submitted by the broadcaster on his behalf have been rejected.

ITV News said they hoped a last-minute visa would be granted, which would allow Mr Husari to attend the awards ceremony on Thursday evening.

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Praising his “extraordinary eye-witness journalism”, ITV said Mr Husari had been “crucial” to their coverage of the seven-year conflict.

“We still hope there is time for Humam’s visa to be approved and that he will be permitted to visit the UK next week to attend the ceremony and receive the recognition he deserves from friends and colleagues here for his courageous work,” a spokeswoman for the broadcaster said.