Film director Roman Polanski, jailed in Switzerland on a US arrest warrant, will fight extradition to the United States, his French lawyer said in a press statement on Monday.
Film maker Polanski to challenge the arrest warrent
Herve Temime said the director would fight a request for his extradition to the United States to face justice in a 32-year-old sex case. He said his client was stunned by the arrest, since he was a regular visitor to Switzerland, and owned a chalet at the ski resort of Gstaad. Swiss authorities have said that in the past they only learned about Polanski's visits after he already left the country again.
Polanski, 76, was detained on Saturday as he arrived in Zurich to accept a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival. The US seeks his arrest for pleading guilty to unlawful intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and then fleeing to France on the eve of his 1978 sentencing.
Swiss Economy Minister Doris Leuthard said the country had no choice but to enforce an international arrest warrant against Polanski. The fugitive film director, who has dual French and Polish citizenship, is to go before a Swiss court to challenge the arrest warrant and the extradition order.
U.S. has up to 60 days to make a firm extradition request
In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and his Polish counterpart Radek Sikorski urged for charges to be dropped. They also appealed to the Swiss government in Berne to let Polanski go on bail. Even Samantha Geimer, the victim from more than three decades ago, has since said Polanski should not face any jail time.
A Swiss justice ministry spokesman said it was theoretically possible to release the film director on bail, although that was very unlikely. "The criteria for bail are very strict," spokesman Guido Balmer said.
Meanwhile, actors and film directors from around the world have put their names to a petition demanding that Polanski, who directed "Rosemary's Baby", "Chinatown" and "The Pianist", be immediately released. Several film associations, including the Cannes festival, are also reported to have supported the demand.
Editor: Andreas Illmer