Polanski will not agree to extradition: lawyer

PARIS Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:06pm EST

Polish-born film director Roman Polanski awaits a public talk in Potsdam in this February 19, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Polish-born film director Roman Polanski awaits a public talk in Potsdam in this February 19, 2009 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke

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PARIS (Reuters) - Roman Polanski will not agree voluntarily to being extradited to the United States over a 1970s child sex case, the film director's lawyer said in an interview with French daily Le Figaro published on Friday.

Polanski, 76, is being held in a Swiss prison pending a decision on a U.S. extradition request. He fled the United States in 1978 while awaiting sentencing for having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.

His lawyer, Herve Temime, told Le Figaro that Polanski had already been punished for the original offense after undergoing psychiatric tests during a 42-day period in detention in California in 1978.

He said the fact that the offense took place more than 30 years ago should also weigh in any decision on extradition.

"We also maintain that Mr Polanski did not face a fair trial in Los Angeles," he said. "For all these reasons, among others, his position remains unchanged: he will not accept being extradited to the United States."

Polanski faces up to two years in a U.S. prison if he is extradited but if he does not agree to go voluntarily, the process could take many months or even years.

The Oscar-winning director, who holds dual French and Polish nationality, was arrested to comply with a U.S. warrant when he flew to Switzerland to receive an award at a film festival in September.

The arrest triggered a political storm in France after Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand and numerous prominent artists sprang to his defense. Others argued Polanski's status as a film director should not protect him from the law.

Polanski was originally indicted on six charges, including rape, for having sex after giving the girl champagne and drugs.

He pleaded guilty to a single count of having sex with a minor and spent 42 days in detention. But he fled before the case was concluded, believing a judge would sentence him to up to 50 years despite a plea agreement for time already served.

Temime said Polanski was bearing up well in prison but had asked to be released provisionally and was prepared to offer a substantial financial bond as well as other guarantees against flight, including wearing an electronic bracelet.

Polanski's films include "The Pianist" for which he won an Academy Award in 2002, "Chinatown," "Rosemary's Baby," "Repulsion" and "Knife in the Water."

(Writing by James Mackenzie, editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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