Swiss authorities have announced that they will not extradite filmmaker Roman Polanski to the United States.
Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told a news conference on Monday: “He’s a free man.” Polanski, 76, has already been released from house arrest at his chalet in Gstaad.
The Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police said the decision came because Polanski had been coming in and out of Switzerland since 2006 to go to his vacation home; therefore he could not have reliably been expected to have been arrested and deported when he visited the country to accept an award from the Zurich Film Festival in September 2009.
“Roman Polanski would not have decided to go to the film festival in Zürich in September 2009 if he had not trusted that the journey would not entail any legal disadvantages for him,” the Swiss justice ministry said in a statement.
The Swiss authorities said the extradition request was “undermined by a serious fault” in that US authorities had not turned over requested documents related to the case.
Widmer-Schlumpf said the US wouldn’t be able to contest the ruling.
The extradition request was tied to sentencing related to Polanski’s plea deal after having sex with an underage girl in 1977.
The Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police said a flaw in the U.S. extradition request could not be ruled out and that Polanski, who maintains a vacation home in Switzerland, could reliably expect not to be arrested and deported since the U.S. knew of his frequent presence there over the last few years but never acted on it.
Polanski’s most recent film, thriller The Ghost Writer (also known as The Ghost) was completed during his house arrest.