LONDON — Roman Polanski has evaded a fresh bid by U.S. authorities to have him arrested with a view to extraditing him.
U.S. officials requested that the Polish government seize the director as he visited Poland to attend the opening of a Jewish museum in Warsaw. Polanski was questioned by prosecutors in Krakow today.
“Roman Polanski said he would comply with all requests made by prosecutors in this case and provided his address,” Poland’s justice ministry spokesman Mateusz Martyniuk told AFP.
“Prosecutors therefore decided not to arrest him in connection with a possible U.S. extradition request.”
Martyniuk said Polanski’s extradition to the U.S. was still possible, but as the U.S. had yet to make an extradition request Polanski “is a free citizen and is free to travel.”
Polanski pleaded guilty to having sex with 13-year-old Samantha Geimer in the U.S. in 1977, but left the country in 1978 before sentencing.
Polanski holds dual French and Polish citizenship, so under the terms of the extradition treaty between Poland and the U.S. the Polish government is not obliged to extradite him, but has the power to do so if it wishes.
In 2010, Poland’s prosecutor general ruled that Polanski could not be extradited as too much time had passed since the offences, but Martyniuk said Thursday that extradition was possible because “the statute of limitations does not apply to U.S. requests.”
Polanski has made frequent visits to Poland in recent years, and earlier this year said that he would shoot a film about the Dreyfus Affair in the country, if he received assurances from the Polish government that he would be safe from extradition to the U.S.
In 2009, Polanski was taken into police custody in Switzerland after the U.S. submitted an arrest warrant, but an attempt by the U.S. to have him extradited later failed.