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Sony Pictures executive: "Zero Dark Thirty" "does not advocate torture"

Cast member Jessica Chastain poses at the premiere of "Zero Dark Thirty" at the Dolby theatre in Hollywood, California December 10, 2012. RE
Cast member Jessica Chastain poses at the premiere of "Zero Dark Thirty" at the Dolby theatre in Hollywood, California December 10, 2012. RE

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sony Pictures executive Amy Pascal lashed out on Friday at a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) who accused Osama bin Laden film "Zero Dark Thirty" of promoting torture and urged fellow Academy members not to vote for it in the Oscars race.

In a strongly worded statement, Pascal said the "attempt to censure one of the great films of our time should be opposed."

"We are outraged that any responsible member of the Academy would use their voting status in AMPAS as a platform to advance their own political agenda," said Pascal, who is co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and chairman of its Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group.

"This film should be judged free of partisanship," she said, adding that the film "does not advocate torture."

Pascal's comments came in response to Academy member David Clennon's remarks at a rally against the torture of terror suspects in Los Angeles on Friday.

"I believe that the film clearly promotes a tolerance for torture," Clennon told local ABC TV news affiliate KABC, adding "I hope that my fellow members of the Academy will consider the morality of each nominee."

Clennon, an actor who appeared in 1980s TV series "thirtysomething," also wrote an opinion piece earlier this week criticizing the film.

"At the risk of being expelled for disclosing my intentions, I will not be voting for 'Zero Dark Thirty' - in any Academy Awards category," Clennon wrote on progressive news website Truth-out.org in a January 9 posting.

"'Zero' never acknowledges that torture is immoral and criminal. It does portray torture as getting results," he added.

The 6,000 members of the Academy are urged not to reveal who they cast their votes for. Academy Award winners are revealed at a ceremony in February, the highlight of Hollywood's award season.

The Academy on Friday declined to comment on Clennon's remarks.

"Zero Dark Thirty" won five Oscar nominations, including a nod for best picture, despite coming under attack in Washington over its source material and claims by politicians that it depicts torture as helping the United States find and kill the al Qaeda leader in May 2011.

Among the film's nominees were actress Jessica Chastain and screenwriter Mark Boal, but director Kathyrn Bigelow surprisingly failed to make the Oscar best director shortlist.

Sony Pictures Entertainment is a unit of Sony Corp.

(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Eric Walsh)

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