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Kiefer Sutherland defends 24’s use of torture: ‘24 is your excuse for Abu Ghraib? You must be kidding me’

Kiefer Sutherland has dismissed claims that his hit show 24 endorsed the use of torture, saying it is “absolutely asinine” to blame the US military’s actions on a TV series.

Sutherland played counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer in the show from 2001 to 2009, and reprised the role for a revival in 2014.

The thriller was a huge hit, winning 20 Emmys and drawing in a global audience of 100 million viewers.

However, the series was also criticised for promoting the idea that torture is an effective interrogation tactic.

In it, Bauer breaks suspects’ fingers, suffocates them and electrocutes them.

In November 2006, US Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point, visited the set of 24 to complain that the show was having a toxic effect on his new recruits. “I’d like them to stop,” Finnegan said at the time. “They should do a show where torture backfires.”

In a new interview with The Independent, out on Saturday 22 January, Sutherland defended the show, saying: “If the United States military can be derailed by a television show, we’ve got a much bigger problem than 24.

“The second he made the comment public, as if somehow 24 was going to become your excuse for Abu Ghraib… you must be kidding me. That I won’t accept.

“To use 24, a television show, as a scapegoat for the behaviour of the United States military is just absolutely asinine.”

During the early stages of the Iraq War, members of the United States Army and the CIA committed a series of human rights violations and war crimes against detainees in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, including torture and rape.

The abuses came to public attention with the emergence of photographs of the abuse in April 2004.

Elsewhere in the interview, Sutherland talks about his activist mother, his time behind bars and why 24 is unfairly maligned.


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