Film director Roman Polanski was questioned and then released by authorities in Poland Thursday, at the request of U.S. prosecutors, over sex offense charges dating back to 1977.
The director of hit films including “Chinatown,” and “Rosemary's Baby,” has been pursued by U.S. authorities since 1978, when he fled the country before he could be sentenced for having sex with a minor. U.S. attempts to extradite Polanski have been unsuccessful.
Polanski was detained after attending the opening of a Jewish museum in Krakow, at the request of the United States. He was questioned and then released, and remains free to travel, according to Polish officials cited by the BBC.
Though no formal request for extradition has yet been submitted from U.S. authorities, there are conflicting reports about whether Polish authorities would consider extraditing Polanski to the U.S. if such a request was made. A report from the AFP, citing Polish justice ministry spokesman Mateusz Martyniuk, said that authorities in Warsaw would not rule out extraditing the director.
However, France 24 reported that Deputy Foreign Minister Rafal Trzaskowski hinted that Poland would not be willing to act on a US extradition request, if one were made. According to the Associated Press, Trzaskowski cited the fact that the statute of limitations on the U.S. charges Polanski faces had run out in Poland.
Polanski's movements are restricted by an Interpol warrant in effect in 188 countries, but he travels freely between Switzerland, France and Poland. He holds both French and Polish nationality.
In 2009, Polanski was arrested in Switzerland and an attempt was made by the U.S. to extradite him to face the same charges. The Swiss ultimately rejected the request and Polanski was freed.
Polanski plead guilty in 1977 to charges of unlawful sexual intercourse with Samantha Geimer, who was aged 13 at the time of the incident, in a hot tub belonging to actor Jack Nicholson. He fled the country before he could be sentenced, claiming that the judge in his case was going to renege on a plea deal agreement that would have resulted in him receiving a non-custodial sentence.
In 2010, after Swiss authorities rejected the U.S. application for his extradition, Polanski published a lengthy open letter entitled “I Can Remain Silent No Longer,” outlining his version of the legal situation he finds himself in.
In 2011, Polanski apologized to Geimer, who he referred to as “my victim.” Geimer told CNN in 2010 that she was happy that Polanski had not been extraditied, and that she did not wish to see him go to trial.