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Polanski attorneys lobbying federal officials to stop extradition

October 9, 2009 |  5:49 pm

Attorneys for Roman Polanski are lobbying federal officials not to extradite the acclaimed filmmaker to the U.S. from Switzerland, where he is jailed in connection with 32-year-old child sex charges, according to court documents filed in Los Angeles.

A team of American attorneys for Polanski met with a deputy assistant attorney general and other Justice Department officials Oct. 2 and presented them with arguments against returning the director to the U.S. to face sentencing on a statutory rape charge, according to a letter included in an appellate court filing Wednesday.

The letter from Polanski’s attorneys thanking Bruce Swartz, who oversees the department’s Office of International Affairs, for the meeting was part of a filing by Los Angeles prosecutors asking the California 2nd District Court of Appeal to dismiss “as moot” an appeal predating his arrest. 

In the 10-page letter, Polanski’s attorneys summarized allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct in the 1977 case and contended the director has already served his sentence.

The attorneys also wrote that Polanski has “little chance of receiving a fair hearing or disposition in California should he be returned.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman said Friday night that she could not immediately confirm the meeting and declined further comment.

The Los Angeles district attorney’s office is in the process of preparing a formal request for Polanski’s extradition and a spokeswoman said the director’s lobbying efforts would have no effect on that process.

“We will be following the procedure that we follow in all international extraditions. We send all the necessary materials to Washington and the request goes out from there,” said spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.

Polanski, 76, was arrested in Zurich on Sept. 26. He fled the U.S. on the eve of his 1978 sentencing for unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, a 13-year-old girl who told police he raped and sodomized her during a photo shoot.

--Harriet Ryan