Benedict Cumberbatch says he wants Guantánamo Bay closed after working on ‘The Mauritanian’

"I feel quite strongly that Guantánamo doesn’t have a place in our world"

Benedict Cumberbatch has said he wants Guantánamo Bay closed following his work on recent film The Mauritanian.

The film, which is being produced by SunnyMarch – an independent film and television company that Cumberbatch jointly owns – explores the experiences of Mohamedou Ould Slahi who was incarcerated at Guantánamo Bay for 14 years without charge.

After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the offshore prison camp in Cuba was set up to hold suspects relating to terror charges. However, many suspects remained there against their will and without trial for years, Many detainees also alleged they were tortured frequently.

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After reading Slahi’s memoir Guantánamo Diary, Cumberbatch told The Independent he was “hooked on [Slahi’s] voice” and decided to make a film about his experiences. The film stars Cumberbatch alongside Tahar Rahim and Jodie Foster.

Foster plays Nancy Hollander, a lawyer who spent years trying to get Slahi freed from Guantánamo, in the film. Foster has already won a Golden Globe for her performance and the film is also up for five BAFTAs next week.

Cumberbatch said: “I feel quite strongly that Guantánamo doesn’t have a place in our world.” When asked if he hopes US President Joe Biden will close Guantánamo, Cumberbatch added: “Hoping? I’m going to plead with the guy.

“It is a huge spend,” he went on. “It’s the most expensive prison on earth. And what are the results? Where are the prosecutions? That’s just being really brutally economic about it, it just doesn’t work. And then you have the human rights issue.

“It’s an atrocious own goal, I think for the free world to be incarcerating people through extraordinary rendition, torturing them and extracting confessions they think are then usable in prosecution…it is a really dangerous, unnecessary and ineffectual place, I think, and enough people have suffered there.”

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In a four-star review of the film, NME wrote: “Considering the awful humanitarian crimes that went on behind closed doors in Guantanamo Bay, there’s definitely a much more powerful film to be made out of Salahi’s story than the one we get in The Mauritanian.

“Instead giving us a political suspenser with a slightly softened bite, Macdonald’s solid, occasionally generic exposé still lands with weight thanks to Rahim – a name that really should have been on that Oscar list.”

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