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Latest Roman Polanski chapter puts the saga back where it started

July 12, 2010 |  2:25 pm

Some clarity emerged on Monday about Roman Polanski's legal and geographic status and, as you may have heard, he won't be extradited to the U.S.

The Los Angeles district attorney's office had hoped that the Swiss government would extradite the fugitive director. Instead, the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police ruled, in a dramatic turn, that the L.A. district attorney's office had failed to turn over requested documents, and also said Polanski could reliably expect not to be arrested and deported because the U.S. knew of his frequent presence in Switzerland over the last few years but never acted on it.

The upshot is that Polanski is free from the Swiss house arrest that he has been under since the fall and can return to France, where he has lived for more than 30 years and where he had said he hopes to return once the house arrest ended. Essentially, it puts us back where we were 10 months ago -- Polanski can travel to select European countries with little fear of extradition.

The interesting question is now whether he'll indeed travel to any more film festivals. The initial arrest happened when Polanski traveled to the Zurich Film Festival, and though he can ostensibly move, with little risk, to countries from which extradition would be tricky, it's an open question whether he'll take that chance.

As for his broader Hollywood career, the Swiss court's decision means that Polanski can get back to directing. Polanski did some of his best work in a while with this year's moody thriller "The Ghost Writer," creatively using coastal Germany to stand in for the coastal U.S. Those who are fans of his films -- regardless of their opinions of his character -- might be heartened to know he could soon be working again.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Roman Polanski on the set of 'The Ghost Writer.' Credit: Guy Farrandis / Summit Entertainment


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