Polanski release a relief to many in Europe

Reaction to Swiss authorities' decision largely positive

COLOGNE, Germany -- In Europe, the reaction by politicians and industry execs to Roman Polanski's surprise release has been largely positive.

The governments of France and Poland applauded the decision by Swiss authorities Monday not to extradite the 77-year-old director to the U.S. to face sex charges and instead release him after nearly 10 months of incarceration.

Polanski holds dual French-Polish citizenship.

"We are extremely happy for him and his family," said German producer Christoph Fisser, deputy head of Studio Babelsberg and a co-producer on Polanski's "The Ghost Writer." Fisser in turn criticized the Swiss for taking so long to rule on the extradition case.

Writer and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, who helped launch a VIP petition for Polanski's release, told French media he was "crazy with happiness" over the news. While Jack Lang, former French culture minister, said simply, "Merci Switzerland, Bravo Switzerland!"

Frederic Mitterand, Lang's successor as culture minister, said, "Now is the time for appeasement. The painful past, the rich personality, the unanimously admired works of Roman Polanski all find their place again."

Polanski's wife, actress Emmanuelle Seigner ("The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"), called Monday's decision "the end of a nightmare for my children and for myself," adding "I really can't wait until we can get back to our projects and our normal family life."

Festival de Cannes director Thierry Fremaux was more reserved in his comments.

"This judiciary procedure in which there will be neither a winner nor a loser seems to have ended," Fremaux said. "We hope that this will be the end for Roman Polanski of the dramas that have marked his existence and that after finding his way, he can quickly rededicate himself entirely to his work as a filmmaker."

Polanski continued to work during his arrest, keeping up with the final edit of "The Ghost Writer" via telephone with his producers. But Polanski's communication with the outside world was greatly restricted during his house arrest. It is unclear how soon he will be able to return to filmmaking.

Rebecca Leffler in Paris contributed to this report.
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