outcry over Polanski arrest

BERLIN — Roman Polanski's French lawyer said Monday the director would fight extradition from Switzerland to the U.S., as the arrest of the 76-year-old spiraled into an international incident, with France announcing it had appealed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for his release.

Polanski has lived in Paris and avoided countries with extradition agreements with the U.S. since being charged in 1977 for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Meanwhile, Zurich Film Festival jury president Debra Winger on Monday demanded the release of Polanski from jail in Switzerland.

The American thesp criticized Swiss authorities for their "philistine collusion" in arresting the helmer at Zurich Airport on Saturday on behalf of U.S. justice authorities, just before the festival was to honor him for lifetime achievement.

"This fledgling festival has been unfairly exploited and whenever this happens the whole art world suffers," Winger said in a statement to journalists on Monday, standing together with the other four international jury members in announcing they had decided to continue at the festival that is honoring Polanski.

"We hope today this latest (arrest) order will be dropped. It is based on a three-decades-old case that is dead but for minor technicalities. We stand by him and await his release and his next masterpiece."

Winger added: "We came to Zurich to honor Roman Polanski as a great artist but under these sad and arcane circumstances we can only think of him today as a human being uncertain of the year ahead. His life has always informed his art and it always will."

Protesters outside the festival's main theater on Sunday, where he was honored despite being in jail, held up banners demanding his release and criticizing Swiss authorities for arresting him.

Polanski's French lawyer Herve Temime said the director was stunned by the arrest, in part because he has a chalet at the Gstaad ski resort and often travels to Switzerland.

"He is in a fighting mood and determined to defend himself," Temime told France's Info radio. "We have begun by requesting his release. There is no legal reason based on the facts or the most basic principles of justice to keep Roman Polanski in prison for even a single day."

Polanski was scheduled to receive the festival's Golden Eye award for life achievement on Sunday when he was apprehended.

The case has dominated newscasts and headlines across Europe, sparking condemnation in France and the director's native Poland.

France's foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said that he had written to Clinton calling for Polanski's release.

A Swiss foreign ministry spokesman said that Kouchner had also made an appeal on Polanski's behalf to his Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey. Swiss minister Doris Leuthard said her country had no choice but to enforce the international arrest warrant against Polanski.

"The Americans strongly believe that the arrest of Mr. Polanski is necessary — that's for them to decide," she told reporters in Paris. "Switzerland is simply a state where the police functions and where we treat all the people the same way."

France's culture minister Frederic Mitterrand also criticized the U.S. "Seeing him alone, imprisoned while he was heading to an event that was due to offer him praise and recognition is awful," he said. "He was trapped. In the same way that there is a generous America that we like, there is also a scary America, and that has just shown its face."

In Germany, there was also support for the director. The Berlin Film Festival demanded Polanski be freed. "The Berlinale protests the arbitrary treatment of one of the world's most outstanding film directors," the fest said in a statement. "We declare our deep respect for Roman Polanski and we demand his immediate release."

The German Film Academy also condemned Polanski's detention. Academy presidents Senta Berger and Guenter Rohrbach said in a joint statement: "The German Film Academy finds it revolting that Roman Polanski has been arrested for an act committed more than 30 years ago."


this article is just the tip of the iceberg tbh