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Roman Polanski risked extradition back to U.S. as early as 1980, biographer says

October 7, 2009 |  7:56 am

In the wake of Roman Polanski's arrest last month, many people have asked why the famed director risked extradition back to the United States by attending a film festival in Zurich.

Going into a country that had a extradition treaty with the U.S. was risky for Polanski, who has been wanted for three decades after he fled before being sentenced in L.A. court for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl.

But Polanski's biographer said the director has long been a risk taker -- both before and after the sex assault case. Christopher Sandford, writing in the Telegraph, noted that Polanski risked being arrested and sent back to the U.S. as early as 1980 -- just two years after he fled.

"In February 1980, Polanski managed to appear in Holland, a country with an extradition treaty with the U.S., in order to attend the premiere of his film 'Tess,'" Sandford wrote. He quoted Polanski as saying, "I'll be home again before there's any legal nonsense."

Sandford continues:

In recent years, Polanski has continued to visit several "off-limits" countries with impunity, and has even bought a home in Gstaad [Switzerland], where he counts the local prefect of police among his neighbours.

No wonder, perhaps, that one of Polanski's friends told me last week that "Roman had possibly come to believe over the last 30 years that he was less and less bound by any restrictions on his liberty." If so, it's an assumption that may yet be tested by events in the weeks ahead.

-- Shelby Grad

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