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Sigourney Weaver, Fariba Davoodi Mohajer and
Sam Waterston

FBI Agent Jim Clemente, Fariba Davoodi Mohajer and
Criminal Minds executive story editor Andrew Wilder

Celebs Join In Plea
Against Using Torture

By Tim Boxer

INCE 2001, says Sam Waterston, the Assistant D.A. of television’s Law & Order, there’s been an increase of torture on TV shows. In the past there were fewer than four acts of torture on television every year. Now there are more than 100.

"It’s not just the villains committing these heinous acts," he added. "The good guys are doing the dirty work."

He cited the television show 24 as a prime example, calling Jack Bauer "the thinking man’s torturer."

In contrast to today’s techniques, Waterston mentioned his father who interrogated German POWs for the Royal Air Force in the Second World War: "He said that some German captives were broken by taking them out to dinner in London."

At the Human Rights First dinner at Chelsea Pier 60 in New York, Waterston presented the organization’s inaugural Excellence in Television Award to Andrew Wilder, executive story editor of Criminal Minds, for realistic portrayal of interrogation.

Standing by was Jim Clemente, an FBI agent who wrote the winning episode, "Lessons Learned." In the episode Special Agent Jason Gideon (played by Mandy Patinkin) talks to a detainee, instead of torturing him, to learn the location of a biological bomb.

Sigourney Weaver presented the Human Rights Award to Fariba Davoodi Mohajer who lives as an exile in the U.S. She has a jail sentence on her head in Iran for collecting a million signatures to challenge laws that discriminate against women, including the barbaric punishment of stoning.

"We will not be silent any longer," Mohajer declared. "Women in Iran are beaten by police because they want to enter a sports stadium. I was arrested on a women’s march."

Hosted by NBC’s Today Show anchor Meredith Vieira, the event raised $2.3 million for Human Rights First.

Human Rights First president Michael Posner also paid tribute to nine retired generals and admirals for their opposition to the use of torture.

One of these honorees, Rear Admiral John D. Hutson (Ret.), president of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire, said that "we may be retired but we are active in human rights," trying to make sure that torture is no longer part of U.S. policy.

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