Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski will fight extradition to the U.S. on a 1978 arrest warrant for statutory rape of then 13-year-old Samantha Geimer. Polanski was arrested this weekend after traveling to Switzerland to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival.
Roman Polanski was arrested on Saturday at the Zurich airport on a warrant stemming from his alleged 1977 rape and sexual assault of Samantha Geimer. Polanski pleaded guilty to “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor” at the time, but later fled to France. France has a limited extradition treaty with the United States. Switzerland, on the other hand, was all too happy to slap the cuffs on Polanski as soon as he stepped foot in the country.
Polanski’s French lawyer, Herve Temime, released a statement saying the acclaimed director will “immediately petition for his freedom.” Polanski is not the only one who desperately wants his freedom. A coalition of actors, filmmakers and other industry types have put together a petition asking authorities to release Polanski. “We’re calling on every film-maker we can to help fix this terrible situation,” said movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Even Polanski’s alleged victim, Samantha Geimer, has asked for charges against him to be dropped. “I don’t carry any feelings of anger towards Polanski,” she told People magazine in 1997. “He did something really gross to me, but it was the media that ruined my life.”
Polanski filed a request in December to the California courts to have the charges dismissed, but a judge ruled the director must come to the U.S. to have his request considered.