Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland on a U.S. warrant, issued in 1978 when Polanski fled the country after being convicted of having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Polanski is 76. He survived the Krakow ghetto, his parents died at Auschwitz, his wife and unborn child were brutally murdered by Charles Manson's "family." He's one of the world's most talented and successful makers of film, and he was entering Switzerland to be honored at the Zurich film festival when he was busted. He and his victim -- she's 45-years-old now and has joined Polanski's petition to overturn his conviction -- reached a settlement years ago.
In the Seventies, some people thought Polanski was being persecuted. Others, including The Smoking Gun, have been crying for
the brilliant director's that little pervert's blood for years.
I think the latest Polanski flap is a lot of fun.
The fact that Polanski could walk around France safely for 30 years, then be busted by Switzerland the minute he stepped into the country to get a highly publicized award -- although he owns a home there -- tells us a lot about those two countries. Say what you want to about the French, France has always been a place to go and thumb your nose at the U.S. if you want to.
Apparently, the Swiss have an extradition agreement with the U.S. and the French don't. Who knew that about the Swiss? It looks like Polanski didn't.
And then, there's the conspiracy angle. Was Polanski set up by the Zurich Film Festival and the Swiss Police? Or was this Polanski's sensational way of turning himself in? We'll probably know by the end of the week. The U.S. is under pressure to move on this one.
Update: France and Poland urged Switzerland to free Polansky on bail and pressed U.S. officials all the way up to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the case. The Swiss said there was a chance Polanski could be released on bail if he promised not to flee the country.
Update 2: Polanski has decided to fight. His lawyer says the U.S. extradition request is illegal. I figure he has about as much chance as those tax evaders who thought the Swiss wouldn't turn their bank records over to the U.S.
Update 3: Polanski's lawyers say the U.S. never tried to catch Polanski before. The L.A. prosecuters say they did, including one time they thought he was headed for Thailand.
Update 4: The French are outraged. "There's an America we love and an America that scares us," French Culture Minister FrÉdÉric Mitterrand said, "and it's that latter America that has just shown us its face." Mitterrand said he and French President Nicolas Sarkozy (shown below with President Obama and an unidentified girl) hoped for a "rapid resolution to the situation which would allow Roman Polanski to rejoin his family as quickly as possible."