Published September 06, 2013
TORONTO (AFP) – British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the founder of WikiLeaks in a new film, said Friday he hopes Julian Assange can carry on his work exposing secrets.
Assange has been holed up at the Ecuadoran embassy in London after claiming asylum from that country a year ago to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual assault against two women.
Cumberbatch plays the controversial hacker in director Bill Condon's "The Fifth Estate," which opened the Toronto film festival on Thursday.
"It's very complicated, and it's to do with dealings and goings-on behind closed doors and I don't have access to any kind of information or perspective that would shine a light on some certain truth about that," Cumberbatch said at a press conference.
"What I'd like to see is the man able to be able to carry on his work as founder of WikiLeaks. Beyond that, due process has to take place in whatever shape or forms that happens."
Condon added that the man behind the largest secrets leak in American history in 2010 is "an absolute pioneer and he's made a huge difference. He opened the door that Edward Snowden just walked through. For all of those reasons, I think he's an extremely admirable figure.
"It becomes a question when there's so much information that he is responsible for and whether he is the person or kind of person that we want to leave that responsibility to."
The film's release comes a few weeks after a US soldier was sentenced to 35 years in prison for sending 700,000 documents -- military war logs and US diplomatic cables -- to WikiLeaks, which published them.
The following day that soldier announced a gender change to female and is now known as Chelsea Manning, rather than Bradley Manning as was the case when she was convicted and sentenced.
While the Manning case was ongoing, Snowden, an intelligence contractor, disclosed details of the National Security Agency's secret electronic monitoring operations, and then fled to Russia.
Assange himself has panned Condon's film, saying it is "a lie upon a lie" but Condon said those comments were based on an early script "which really bears little resemblance to the movie we made."
Cumberbatch added: "I didn't want to impersonate Julian but interpret(him)."
Members of the cast, speaking about preparing for their respective roles, said they were largely computer illiterate before filming.
"Fortunately my brother is an IT guy because I don't know anything about computers," said actor Daniel Bruhl, who plays Assange's one-time confidant Daniel Domscheit-Berg.
"When I first met Daniel, he said it would probably take him only five minutes to get into my computer and all of my information, so I changed my passwords and now I don't remember them," Bruhl quipped.