Acting Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Michael Morell has waded into the controversy surrounding Kathryn Bigelow's movie Zero Dark Thirty, insisting the film is "not a realistic portrayal of the facts".
The movie, which is tipped as a potential Oscars contender, is based on the real life hunt for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and has sparked controversy by suggesting information that led to his capture was obtained using torture.
In a rare public statement, Morell addressed the issues himself by writing an open letter to his CIA colleagues confirming the organization’s involvement with the film but he maintains the filmmakers have used significant artistic license.
In a post on the CIA's public website, he writes, "I would not normally comment on a Hollywood film, but I think it important to put Zero Dark Thirty, which deals with one of the most significant achievements in our history, into some context... the film takes significant artistic license, while portraying itself as being historically accurate...
"The film creates the strong impression that the enhanced interrogation techniques that were part of our former detention and interrogation program were the key to finding Bin Laden. That impression is false.... What I want you to know is that Zero Dark Thirty is a dramatization, not a realistic portrayal of the facts."
Morell's letter was released on Friday, two days after a group of U.S. senators sent a message to the film's distributors, Sony Pictures, demanding studio bosses attach a disclaimer to the film denying the CIA took any inappropriate action to obtain information.
Oscar-winning director Bigelow has defended her movie, previously telling Thewrap.com, "The point was to immerse the audience in this landscape, not to pretend to debate policy. Was it difficult to shoot? Yes. Do I wish (torture) was not part of that history? Yes, but it was."