Polanski released on bail to Swiss chalet

Justice Ministry says it will rule on extradition 'within weeks'

COLOGNE, Germany -- Film director Roman Polanski has been moved on Friday from a Swiss prison to house arrest in his luxury chalet in the ski resort town of Gstaad.

Polanski was released on a $4.5 million bail bond and forced to surrender his passports and ID documents. He also will have to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet for the duration of his house arrest.

Reporters on the scene spotted his wife, French actress Emmanuelle Seigner, and their two children waiting inside the chalet.

Media from around the world are camped out in the small Swiss village, hoping for a glimpse of the 76-year-old director. Before his release Swiss authorities moved him from his jail cell to an undisclosed location because of security concerns.

The Swiss Justice Ministry says it will rule "within weeks" on whether to extradite Polanski to the U.S. to face charges of unlawful sex with a 13-year-old that date back to 1977. If Polanski appeals an extradition order, the case could drag on for several months. He faces up to two years in prison if convicted.

Polanski has spent the past 70 days in a Swiss jail after being arrested on a trip to the Zurich Film Festival to receive a lifetime achievement award.

The Oscar-winning director has been a fugitive since he fled the U.S. before sentencing in his sex trial. The case centers on a night at Jack Nicholson's house when Polanski allegedly drugged the 13-year-old Samantha Geimer with a sedative and champagne before having sex with her. Polanski was arrested and charged with six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs and child molestation. He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful sex with a minor and agreed to a 90-day prison sentence with a psychiatric evaluation. He was released after 42 days, but the judge in the case said he was going to send him back to prison to serve out the sentence.

Polanski fled the U.S. on Feb. 1, 1978, the day of his formal sentencing. Since then he has lived in France, which does not extradite its citizens. Polanski claims the judge and prosecutors acted improperly in his case. His lawyers will argue before a California appeals court this month to have the charges thrown out.

While he formally has remained a fugitive, Polanski has continued to work and move freely throughout Europe. His new film, "The Ghost," which he completed while incarcerated, will debut at the Berlin International Film Festival in February.

Where Polanski will be then is anyone's guess.
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