EXCLUSIVE: Benedict Cumberbatch, Adam Ackland and their company SunnyMarch have come aboard to produce Guantanamo Diary along with ZeroGravity’s Mark Holder and Christine Holder. They will produce with Michael Bronner (who is scripting the project) and Lloyd Levin and Beatriz Levin. The project follows the tribulations of 45 year-old Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a man who was a suspected terrorist and has been incarcerated at Guantanamo bay for 14 years without ever being charged with a crime or having the opportunity to defend himself in court. But that may change and quickly.
“Mohamedou’s co-counsel and I are flying to Guantanamo Monday with the first good news in almost six years,” said his attorney Nancy Hollander. “In 2010, a respected federal judge ordered Mohamedou’s release, but the government appealed that order and Mohamedou’s case has been in limbo ever since. We recently learned that his case will be reviewed by the Periodic Review Board, which provides a possible path to clear him for release, meaning he could be released this year. He will get a chance to speak directly to the panel members, who are drawn from several intelligence agencies. Mohamedou has been detained fifteen years without any charges. It is long past time for his release.”
Slahi is the son of a nomadic herder who has been subjected to “enhanced interrogation” techniques that include everything but waterboarding. His memoir claims that includes having his ribs broken, being kept awake for days, being blindfolded and taken out to sea where he was told he would be executed and was made to drink sea water, and subjected to sexual humiliation involving female soldiers.
The news of movement on the project also comes after CIA Director John Brennan told NBC News just yesterday that he would not engage in “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding, even if the new Commander-in-Chief ordered it. “I will not agree to carry out some of these tactics and techniques I’ve heard bandied about because this institution needs to endure,” he said in the interview.
Convergent Media is providing development funds for the project. Zero Gravity has been on fire as of late with the release of Beasts of No Nation last year, The Accountant, directed by Gavin O’Connor and starring Ben Affleck and Anna Kendrick coming out wide from Warner Bros. in October and prep on an original Netflix series: Ozark which stars Jason Bateman. They are also in post on Headhunters Calling with Gerard Butler, J.K. Simmons and William Dafoe (directed by Mark Williams).
Bronner is a former 60 Minutes producer who has covered the Guantanamo story extensively. He later provided expertise and research for Paul Greengrass’s United 93 and also Captain Phillips.