Roman Polanski Reportedly Questioned, Released in Poland Amid Renewed U.S. Extradition Bid
The 81-year-old director was questioned by prosecutors in Krakow on Thursday
Roman Polanski has evaded a renewed extradition attempt by U.S. authorities that had asked the Polish government to seize the director during a visit to Poland, Agence France Presse reported on Thursday.
Polanski was questioned by prosecutors in Krakow on Thursday, but was then released, according to the report. Thursday's incident came after an attempt by U.S. authorities to have Polanski arrested when he traveled to Warsaw for the opening of a Jewish museum, it said.
He has been wanted by U.S. police since 1978 after leaving the country before he could be sentenced for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
"Roman Polanski said he would comply with all requests made by prosecutors in this case and provided his address," a justice ministry spokesman told AFP. "Prosecutors therefore decided not to arrest him in connection with a possible U.S. extradition request." The report said the 81-year-old director of Chinatown and Rosemary's Baby was released by prosecutors because the U.S. has not yet forwarded an official extradition request.
The spokesman added that Polanski was "a free citizen and is free to travel."
Polanski holds dual French and Polish citizenship. Under the extradition treaty between Poland and the U.S., Poland can, but doesn't have to, extradite him.
Polanski has been spending time recently in Krakow researching a film he wants to shoot there about the 19th century French military Dreyfus affair scandal. He and his lawyers have been in seeking a guarantee from Polish authorities that he won't face extradition if he ends up shooting the movie there.
Polanski was charged by Los Angeles police in 1977 on six felony counts, including rape and sodomy. Police said he persuaded a teenage girl to pose for nude photos at Jack Nicholson's Hollywood home. The teenager, Samantha Geimer, now 51, told a grand jury that Polanski gave her champagne and drugs before having sex with her.
Polanski agreed a plea bargain deal with U.S. prosecutors but fled the country fearing the judge had changed his mind about the deal.
The director's last brush with U.S. authorities was in 2009, when he was arrested in Zurich on his way to a Swiss film festival. He was eventually allowed to return home to France after an extradition request failed.
In 2010, Poland's prosecutor general said that under Polish law, the director could not be extradited because too much time had passed since the offenses, but the country's justice ministry now says it is not ruling out extradition if it is requested.
Polanski, who cannot be extradited from France because the country has no extradition treaty with America, could now return to Paris where he is directing a stage show, The Vampires' Ball.
His victim, Geimer, last year published her account of the incident, The Girl: A Life Live in the Shadow of Roman Polanski, says she no longer has any ill feelings for the director, but just wants "the legal machine to stop."