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Roman Polanski is a free man -- with some key conditions

July 12, 2010 | 11:33 am

The decision by Swiss authorities not to extradite Roman Polanski to the United States to face sentencing for having sex with a teenage girl three decades ago leaves the famed director a free man -- with some conditions.

Although the decision marked a defeat for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office's bid to have Polanski extradited, the director remains a fugitive who could still be snapped up if he leaves France or travels to other countries that would give him a safe haven, said Stan Goldman, a professor at Loyola Law School.

"As long as he ferries between Switzerland and France and few other countries, he's not likely to be extradited," Goldman said. 

Polanski could face arrest if he travels to the United States or other nations such as England.

In the end, the statements by Swiss authorities left more questions than answers. It was unclear if the Swiss courts did not give proper notice to U.S. authorities in asking for documentation or if U.S. prosecutors failed to hand over relevant documents as part of their extradition request.

"The important thing here is they didn't turn over papers," Goldman said. "The court also made the argument that Polanski had no way of knowing he would be extradited if he went to Switzerland. I don't think any American court would have said that."

Goldman said the decision by Swiss authorities shows that not everyone has the same view of the law.

"It reminds us that American courts don't control the world and we don't view the law in the same way," Goldman said. "The Court of Appeals can't reach to Zurich."

-- Andrew Blankstein