Iraqi United 93 Actor: U.S. Won't Let Me In
Alsamari in Flight 93
Iraqi actor Lewis Alsamari, who plays a hijacker in a new movie United 93 – about the real-life doomed airliner on 9/11 – has been denied entry into the U.S. to attend the film's premiere at next week's Tribeca Film Festival in New York, he tells a British newspaper.
Alsamari, 30, has lived in Britain since 1995. Surmising why he's being kept out of America, he tells London's Evening Standard, "I think this was because I am still an Iraqi citizen and fought in the army – but that was only because I was forced to."
The actor says he has not yet seen the film. "It would be so disappointing not to be able to go (to the premiere). I have only seen footage and it would have been amazing to be in New York for the premiere."
Alsamari says he escaped from the Iraqi army in 1993 and stayed in neighboring Jordan for about two years. In 1995, he sought asylum in Britain, and reportedly obtained it in 1998.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in London says she knew of the situation but declined comment on the status of Alsamari's application to travel to New York, Reuters reports.
British director Paul Greengrass's film about the hijacked plane that crashed in a Pennsylvania field has caused controversy over whether it's appropriate to portray the events onscreen so soon after the tragedy. Some New York theaters have yanked the trailer after complaints that scenes from the film were upsetting to viewers.
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