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Polanski Lawyers May Have Triggered Arrest

Director “in a fighting mood” and will resist extradition, French lawyer says.

Roman Polanski is in a "fighting mood" and will contest U.S. attempts to have him extradited from Switzerland to California, his lawyer said on Monday.

Meanwhile, France and Poland pressed Switzerland to free the imprisoned director on bail — even sending pleas to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the matter.

Meanwhile, the L.A. legal team representing the director in a bid to get his case dismissed may have triggered the extradition action, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday afternoon on its website.

A July filing in Polanski’s appeal of a court decision to let the case proceed noted that the L.A. County district attorney’s office had not made a serious effort to have him arrested over  the decades.

The defense filing apparently prompted the D.A. to act, the Times said, citing information from two people close to the case.

Polanski attorney Chad Hemmings refused to comment on the Times report Monday afternoon. The district attorney’s office was not immediately available for comment.

Polanski told Swiss officials he’ll fight any attempt to transfer him to the U.S. and his legal team will try to prove that the stateside request is illegal, his attorney Herve Temime told the Associated Press..

"Taking into account the extraordinary conditions of his arrest, his Swiss lawyer will seek his freedom without delay," Temime said. He added that he had spoken to Polanski from the Zurich cell where he is being held and that the director had seen his wife, French actress Emmanuelle Seigner.

There, he gets three meals a day and can go outside for one hour of exercise. Each room in the kind of location he is being held typically has a single or double occupancy cell, a table, a storage compartment, a toilet and a television, a spokeswoman for Zurich prison authorities told the AP.

"He was shocked, dumbfounded, but he is in a fighting mood and he is very determined to defend himself," Temime said.

Zurich Film Festival jury president Debra Winger on Monday said the Swiss authorities had used "philistine collusion" in arresting Polanski and demanded his release.

 

"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. "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."

 

The Swiss Justice Ministry said on Monday that Polanski could be freed on bail if he doesn’t flee Switzerland. That situation is "not entirely excluded" under Swiss law, said justice spokesman Guido Balmer, adding that Polanski could file a motion on bail. Before that request could be granted, however, a lengthy examination of evidence would have to occur.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner called the arrest "a bit sinister" and wrote to Clinton and called Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey with the Polish Radek Sikorski.

But unless he agrees to head to the U.S., Polanski, who has dual French-Polish citizenship, could spend months being detained. The Capitol has 60 days to submit a request for his transfer, according to a 1990 ruling between Switzerland and the U.S. That request will then be looked at by the Swiss Justice Ministry. Even if it is approved, it can be appealed.