After being held under house arrest since December 2009 by the Swiss authorities under threat of extradition to the United States, Polish film director Roman Polanski is today a free man. The Swiss government has rejected the request of the U.S. to extradite Polanski so he can face trial for charges of unlawful sex with a minor in 1977.
After his arrest on 26 September of last year, the 76-year-old director was put under house arrest in his Swiss chalet in the village of Gstaad, where he remained, awaiting a legal decision, until this afternoon.
According to Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, “Mr. Polanski can now move freely”. At a press conference, she stated that the Swiss government had found that “it was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the U.S. extraditionary request”. The Swiss ministry had requested records from the 1977 hearing to determine whether Polanski had already served out the imprisonment that had been agreed to in the original plea bargain, but had been denied these documents.
The U.S. has already appealed the Swiss decision, and has been told it cannot contest it. Mr. Polanski was originally arrested on an American warrant and released into house arrest on bail of $4.5 million.
See also: Debate: Should Polanski be extradited?