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Benedict Cumberbatch has repeated his call for the U.S. to shut down the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba while attending the Toronto Film Festival on Sunday.
“If we’re fighting fire with fire, if we’re trying to find justice for the gross injustice of a mass act of terrorism, we have to show the world that we’re better than the thing that’s trying to terrorize us,” the Sherlock star said in conversation at the Canadian festival.
Cumberbatch, as he looked back over his film and TV career, at one point discussed his star turn as U.S. military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch in Kevin Macdonald’s The Mauritanian, a film he produced and which is based on the memoir Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi.
Macdonald’s political thriller follows the 14-year detainment of Slahi at Guantanamo Bay and also starred Jodie Foster and Tahar Rahim.
Cumberbatch said he was aware his comments about Guantanamo Bay were coming in the immediate wake of the 20th anniversary remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. “I understood where the need to find results and to prevent a second attack, which was much feared,” he added.
But Cumberbatch insisted Slahi’s fight for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the U.S. government indicates he was wrongly and unjustly prosecuted and imprisoned. “Especially with Mohamedou, it was the wrong answer they were trying to get, it was the wrong person,” he insisted.
The role of Colonel Couch got Cumberbatch into the head of an American military prosecutor who was willing to speak truth to power as the tragedy of 9/11 produced a rough justice unmoored from any acceptable standards of due process. “He [Couch] couldn’t have been more perfectly positioned to prosecute Mohamedou, and yet, he saw the injustice of that,” the veteran Hollywood actor added.
Cumberbatch is in Toronto to see two of his latest movies — Jane Campion’s ‘The Power of the Dog’ and Will Sharpe’s ‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’ — screen at the festival. He will also receive the TIFF Tribute Actor Award during the 46th edition of TIFF.
The Toronto Film Festival continues through Sept. 18.
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