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Europeans welcome Roman Polanski's release

A cameraman walks past a polce car in front of film director Roman Polanski's chalet "Milky Way" in the Swiss mountain resort of Gstaad July 12, 2010. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

COLOGNE, Germany (Hollywood Reporter) - In Europe, the reaction by politicians and industry executives to Roman Polanski’s surprise release has been largely positive.

The governments of France and Poland applauded the decision by Swiss authorities Monday not to extradite the 77-year-old director to the U.S. to face sex charges and instead release him after nearly 10 months of incarceration. Polanski holds dual French-Polish citizenship.

Polanski’s wife, actress Emmanuelle Seigner (“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”), called Monday’s decision “the end of a nightmare for my children and for myself,” adding “I really can’t wait until we can get back to our projects and our normal family life.”

German producer Christoph Fisser, deputy head of Studio Babelsberg and a co-producer on Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer,” criticized the Swiss for taking so long to rule on the extradition case.

Writer and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, who helped launch a VIP petition for Polanski’s release, told French media he was “crazy with happiness” over the news.

French culture minister Frederic Mitterrand said, “Now is the time for appeasement. The painful past, the rich personality, the unanimously admired works of Roman Polanski all find their place again.”

His predecessor Jack Lang said simply, “Merci Switzerland, Bravo Switzerland!”

Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux was more reserved in his comments. “This judiciary procedure in which there will be neither a winner nor a loser seems to have ended,” Fremaux said. “We hope that this will be the end for Roman Polanski of the dramas that have marked his existence and that after finding his way, he can quickly rededicate himself entirely to his work as a filmmaker.”

Polanski worked during his arrest, keeping up with the final edit of “The Ghost Writer” via telephone with his producers. But his communication with the outside world was greatly restricted during his house arrest. It is unclear how soon he will be able to return to filmmaking.

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