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by Peter Knegt
September 28, 2009 9:40 AM
8 Comments
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Roman Polanski Will Fight US Extradition; Film World Protests In His Defense

The Associated Press is reporting that director Roman Polanski has been taken into custody by Swiss police on the 1978 U.S. arrest warrant for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. Polanski was flying in to receive an honorary award at the Zurich Film Festival when he was detained late Saturday at the airport, organizers at the festival said in a statement. Zurich police since confirmed the arrest, but have refused to provide more details because he said it was a matter for the Swiss Justice Ministry. Switzerland and the U.S. have an extradition treaty dating back to the 1950s that is still in force.

Festival organizers said Polanski's detention had caused "shock and dismay," but that they would go ahead with Sunday's planned retrospective of the director's work. The Swiss Directors Association sharply criticized authorities for what it deemed "not only a grotesque farce of justice, but also an immense cultural scandal."

Reports Monday had Polanski's lawyer Herve Temime saying that the Academy Award winning director will fight a request for his extradition from Switzerland to the United States to face justice in the 32-year-old case. He said Polanski has "refused the extradition request" and that another lawyer based in Switzerland will file a motion for his release from Swiss custody. Temime said in an e-mailed statement that the U.S. extradition request was "illegal."

The Hollywood Reporter, meanwhile, has a report from the Zurich Film Festival, where the fest's jury donned red badges reading "Free Polanski" at a press conference on Monday and accused Switzerland of "philistine collusion" in arresting Polanski.

"We hope today this latest order will be dropped. It is based on a three-decade-old case that is all but dead but for minor technicalities," jury president Debra Winger was quoted in the Reporter. "We stand by and wait for his release and his next masterwork."

Film and political heavyweights -- from Harvey Weinstein and Cannes Festival head Thierry Fremaux, Italian star Monica Bellucci and directors Costa-Gavras, Wong Kar Wai, Bertrand Tavernier, and the foreign ministers of France and Poland are among the many big names expressing outrage at Polanski's arrest. Many signed a petition demanding his release, while it is expected that Weinstein will head up a Hollywood lobby fighting the extradition.

This all comes over a year after the release of Marina Zenovich's documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," which discussed how Polanski was the subject of a media onslaught after being convicted of statutory rape with a 13 year-old girl. The doc suggested that he became the victim of a salacious mix of trumped up headlines, frenzied reporters and an attention-starved judge much more eager to satisfy his own desires to tap into the celebrity mix, than adjudicating justice. He fled the United States for France in the midst of this.

Polanski recently asked a U.S. appeals court in California to overturn a judges' refusal to throw out his case. He claims misconduct by the now-deceased judge who had arranged a plea bargain and then reneged on it. The now 45-year-old victim, Samantha Geimer, who long ago identified herself publicly, has joined in Polanski's bid for dismissal, saying she wants the case to be over. She sued Polanski and reached an undisclosed settlement.

Prior to the arrest, Polanski for many years avoided visits to countries that were likely to extradite him, such as the United Kingdom. He travelled mostly between France, where he resides, and Poland. As a French citizen, he was protected by France's limited extradition with the United States.

Check back with indieWIRE for further details as they develop.

8 Comments

  • thetruthbetold | October 1, 2009 1:28 AMReply

    barry your a douche. Suffered enough?? im sure you make terrible films my friend. you are just as crazy and scared as everyone else in this town. America is doing the right thing Barry you retard. Bringing this asshole back and putting him on trial. Now for the rest of Hollywood......Stop being such pussies and speak out. Say what you feel.

  • sharkslayer_1 | September 30, 2009 7:01 AMReply

    There is a sickness in the world that this is even a question. The idea that a man can rape a child, flee his sentencing and be defended when he is caught would be laughable if it weren't so sad. Maybe his defenders need to seek the same counseling he sought after he committed this horrible crime on that poor child. Thank God there are still those who are bold enough to stand up and speak out for what is right. No one will say it better than MackV above.

  • MackV | September 29, 2009 12:07 PMReply

    I agree with a previous poster that I am also disgusted by of all of the talented people that I have held in such high regard most of my life,for supporting Roman Polanski. I would like to ask any of you-If a forty-something year old man drugged and raped your child,'YOUR CHILD',would you feel the same way as you do about Mr. Polanski? I don't believe you would. You would want the harshest punishment available and would'nt care how long it took. If this was Roman Polanski the plumber or Roman Polanski the garbage man,you'd want him hung in the town square! And rightly so. But,because he is Roman Polanski,that makes it somehow different? Although you might be a bunch of very talented people as far as entertainment goes,you are a proof not only that there is a 'Double-Standard' between rich and poor and unknown and well-known,but also that you have 'NO INTEGRITY'! SHAME ON ALL OF YOU!

  • billieboy | September 29, 2009 10:27 AMReply

    lets see he is of course a jew and he escaped the nazi camps and of course he donated money to hunt down nazi's .. so he of all people should understand the concept getting caught years down the road....

  • jambajim | September 29, 2009 10:15 AMReply

    Samantha was 13. Besson had an interesting comment in the Times, suggesting--even as a friend of Polanski--that as a father, even after thirty years, he wouldn't forget.

    Regardless of her call to forgive and forget (which many victims do after years have passed,) he did flee the country. And he's spent thirty years avoiding resolution.

  • UKbased | September 29, 2009 8:41 AMReply

    Polanski is a coward. The courts did not abuse him so badly ... HE abused a 13 year old girl, which unfortuantely due to court mistake of people talking together that should not (the facts of the assault did not change), they agreed to let him off if he returned. He should be a man not a coward and return to the USA. If he had assaulted my daughter I would want him to pay the penalty even if it was 60 years later. How barry, can you say that man has "suffered enough" geeze .... he has enjoyed great celebrity status and money during all those years. If he is so much of a coward he couldnt go back to face whatever music was thrown at him, then he is nothing in my book. Apart from the fact he is a disgusting pervert - maybe Garry Glitter can give him some advice on how to escape his just punishment.

  • Maryland Clay | September 28, 2009 11:40 AMReply

    Samantha Geime seems to have benefited from the union. Maybe it was blown out of proportion. Let's ask Jack Nicholson.

  • barry@cavalierfilms.com | September 28, 2009 2:57 AMReply

    This is a real travesty. The United states should simply do the right thing and call the case over. They had made an offer to end things if Polanski would present himself back at the court which had abused him so badly. For some reason, (I wonder why - maybe that our justice system lied to him repeatedly and currupted the process so badly) he didn't want to come back to the states.

    This man has sufferred enough. Do the right thing America