Hollywood actor Sean Penn has dismissed claims by Mexican authorities that his secret meeting with drug kingpin Joaquin Guzman, aka El Chapo, in October was "essential" in his recapture last week, in an interview with CBS News on Thursday.
Sean Penn had met Guzman on 2 October in a jungle hideout in Mexico for talks facilitated by Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, and wrote about his visit in a lengthy article for "Rolling Stone" magazine, which was published a day after the druglord was captured on 8 January.
"It is a myth that the meeting was essential to his capture. We had met with him many weeks earlier, in a place far away from where he was captured. The Mexican government was clearly very humiliated by the notion that somebody found him before they did," Penn said.
This is the first time Penn has addressed the media on the issue, apart from a curt message: "I have nothing to hide," sent to The Associated Press earlier this week.
In this interview, however, Penn said he had regrets about how the discussion about the article "ignored the purpose to try to contribute to the discussion about the policy of war on drugs".
"My article failed," Penn said.
When asked by the interviewer if he felt the Mexican government wanted to put the blame for El Chapo's capture on him and endanger his life, the Hollywood star answered in the affirmative. But Penn said he did not fear for his life.
Penn had also been targeted by Guzman's lawyer, who claimed that the actor had lied and said "stupidities" in his article.
Asked why he met with the El Chapo for an interview, Penn said the druglord was "the person upon whom I could start the conversation about the policy of war on drugs".
"We all want this drug problem to stop. We are the consumer. And if you are in the moral right, or on the far left, just as many of your children are doing these drugs. And how much time have they spent in the last week since this article come out, talking about that? One percent? I think that'd be generous (sic)," the actor said.