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Polanski fights extradition to U.S.

September 28, 2009 12:46:35 AM PDT
Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski won't go without a fight. The director's arrest is turning into an international dispute with France and Poland calling for Polanski's release.The much acclaimed film director is going to battle against being extradited back to the United States. Roman Polanski is in a Swiss jail, but his attorney says he's in a fighting mood over attempts to have him come back to face a three-decade-old sex charge.

The 76-year-old director pleaded guilty in 1978 to unlawful intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, Samantha Geimer. However, Roman Polanski fled the country when it appeared the judge would renege on a promise to keep him in prison for only 42 days.

Polanski was on his way to accept a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival when he was arrested on a Los Angeles warrant.

Polanski won an Oscar for "The Pianist," and he also directed movies like "Rosemary's Baby" and "China Town" which is considered by some critics as one of the best movies ever made.

Directors like Harvey Weinstein are trying to rally support for Polanski.

"We hope today that this latest order will be dropped; it's based on a case that is all but dead," says Debra Winger.

Samantha Giemer is now 45 years old, and has come out and said she wants the case to be over.

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he hoped Polanski could be quickly freed by the Swiss, calling the apprehension a "bit sinister." He also told France-Inter radio that he and his Polish counterpart Radek Sikorski wrote to Clinton, and said there could be a decision as early as Monday if a Swiss court accepts bail.

Polanski was "thrown to the lions," said French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand. "In the same way that there is a generous America that we like, there is also a scary America that has just shown its face."

Officials in both Poland and France intend to make a joint appeal to both Switzerland and the U.S. to have Polanski released.

It all doesn't influence L.A.'s top prosecutor, Steve Cooley.

"Until you're ultimately sentenced in a court of law, there is no justice," says L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley.

"It's sort of an epic situation. Obviously very L.A., celebrity defendant, high profile, he's been fighting using surrogates for some time," he adds.

Cooley has yet to say what sentence he'll be recommending.

However, Swiss officials are not ruling out releasing Polanski from jail as long as he doesn't leave Switzerland while extradition is debated. For now Polanski is living in a Zurich cell with an hour outside each day for exercise.

"I think ultimately Polanski has good grounds to maybe even withdraw his plea and start this case all over again," says Dana Cole, a legal analyst.

If Polanski fights extradition, he might spend months in detention if the Swiss don't free him. The United States has 60 days to make a formal request for his transfer to the U.S., and once approved, it can be appealed to several courts.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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