The cultural and political elite in France has come out in support of Roman Polanski now under arrest in Switzerland. They are calling on the Swiss not to extradite the 76-year old movie director to the US where there’s a warrant for his arrest dating back more than 30 years. He stands accused of having unlawful sex with a 13-year old girl in 1977.
Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf is Swiss justice minister. She said: “It’s a judicial question. That’s perfectly clear. We cannot make a difference between a person who is not known and a person who is well known.” Polanski holds French citizenship. Artists and film-makers in France have called on the Swiss authorities to set him free. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is said to be following the case closely and wants the swift release of Polanski. France’s Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand is critical of the US demand for his extradition: “Just as there is an America which is generous and which we like, so there is an America which is frightening, and that is the America which has just revealed its face.” Born in Paris, Polanski spent his youth in Poland before moving to the West. He also lived in California. He admitted to US authorities in 1977 that he had sex with the teenager but denied raping her. However, he fled the US before his trial. Polanski had arrived in Switzerland on Sunday to receive a “life’s achievement award” when he was arrested.