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Polanski Refuses US Extradition Bid, Says Lawyer

PTI 29 Sep 2009, 5:13:20 IST

Filmmaker Roman Polanski has refused to get extradited from Switzerland to the US, where he is wanted on charges of unlawful sex with a minor, even as the issue

snowballed into an international row, with France and Poland backing his plea for a bail. 

"He has refused the request from the United States for his extradition...Given the extravagant circumstances of his arrest we will ask without delay for him to be released.

After that his defence team will demonstrate the illegal nature of the extradition request," said a statement issued by the Academy winning director's lawyer Herve Temime. 

The 'Rosemary's Baby' helmer was arrested two days ago in Switzerland on a three decade old US warrant, while he was in the country to collect a 'Lifetime Achievement

Award' at the Zurich Film Festival. 

Meanwhile the 'Free Polanski' movement is gaining strength in Europe with French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand expressing sympathy with the 76-year-old director. 

"I strongly regret that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them," Mitterrand said during a radio interview.  Adding that

President Sarkozy was following the case "with great attention", Mitterrand revealed that he and the Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski have written to US Secretary of

State Hillary Clinton expressing their opinion on the issue. 

Polish Filmmaker Association including Oscar winning director Andrzej Wajda posted an online plea on Monday to immediately release the 'Rosemary's Baby' director. 

They also called on Poland's president and government to prevent Polanski's extradition to the US. 

As the tug of war continued, the Swiss Justice Ministry did not rule out prospects that the director could be released on bail. 

Guido Balmer, spokesman for Swiss Justice ministry has meanwhile said that a bail is "not entirely excluded". 

Polanski was initially indicted on six felony counts and faced up to life in prison in 1977. 

Instead, he pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and the other counts were dismissed. 

The maximum sentence he could have faced was 50 years, although prosecutors had said at the time that the typical sentence was 16 months to three years in prison. 

Polanski's victim, Samantha Geimer, who long ago identified herself publicly, has joined in his bid to dismissal, saying she wants the case to be over.  A US appeals court

in California is considering whether to overturn a Los Angeles judges' refusal to throw out Polanski's rape case. 

Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the director will remain in Zurich until the conclusion of the extradition proceedings. The United States has 60 days to

file a formal request for Polanski's transfer, she said. PTI