Following his role in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre drama “The Mauritanian”, Benedict Cumberbatch tells the Guardian he’s more than “hoping” President Biden will close Guantanamo.
“Hoping? I’m going to plead with the guy,” the 44-year-old Brit says. “It is a huge spend. 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.”
Cumberbatch dove deep into the history of the facility while filming Kevin Macdonald’s BAFTA-nominated “The Mauritanian” alongside Tahar Rahim, Jodie Foster, and Shailene Woodley. Based on the memoir Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, the film follows the legal attempts to free Slahi (Rahim) after he is held in the detention camp for 14 years without charge nor trial.
For Cumberbatch, the camp also poses a “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,” he says.
The Biden administration previously announced “its goal and intention” to close Guantanamo Bay by the end of his four-year term. The camp was established in 2002 by George W. Bush and during Barack Obama’s tenure, he reduced the number of inmates from 245 to 41. In 2018, Donald Trump signed an order to keep the facility open indefinitely.
Though Cumberbatch says he “understands” what led to the creation of Guantanamo, he adds, “We are, I think, far enough away now from that reaction, that understandable emotional reaction, to question its ongoing validity. And I feel quite strongly that Guantanamo doesn’t have a place in our world.”
“The Mauritanian” is currently available as a digital release.