ZURICH, Switzerland — Imprisoned director Roman Polanski is in a “fighting mood” and will battle U.S. attempts to have him extradited from Switzerland to face justice in California for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl, his lawyer said Monday.
An international tug-of-war over the 76-year-old director escalated Monday as France and Poland urged Switzerland to free him on bail and pressed U.S. officials all the way up to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Polanski was in his third day of detention after Swiss police arrested him Saturday on an international warrant as he arrived in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award from a film festival.
Polanski has told Swiss officials that he will contest a U.S. request that he be transferred to the United States, attorney Herve Temime said in an e-mail. Temime said Polanski’s legal team would try to prove that the U.S. request was illegal and that the Oscar-winning director should be released.
“Taking into account the extraordinary conditions of his arrest, his Swiss lawyer will seek his freedom without delay,” Temime said.
He also told France-Info radio that he was able to speak with Polanski from his Zurich cell.
“He was shocked, dumbfounded but he is in a fighting mood and he is very determined to defend himself,” Temime said.
A complicated legal process awaited all sides. While France expressed hope that Polanski would be freed shortly, Swiss officials said there would be no rash decision.
The Swiss Justice Ministry on Monday did not rule out the possibility that Polanski, director of such classic films as Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby, could be released on bail under very strict conditions.
Justice spokesman Guido Balmer said such an arrangement is “not entirely excluded” under Swiss law and that Polanski could file a motion on bail. But he said Switzerland’s top criminal court would undertake a thorough examination of evidence before deciding on any request.
“This is a legal story,” Balmer said “There is no room for political pressure.”
Authorities in Los Angeles consider Polanski a “convicted felon and fugitive.”
Polanski at the time had pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse and was sent to prison for 42 days of evaluation. Lawyers agreed that would be his full sentence, but the judge tried to renege on the plea bargain.
On the day of his sentencing in 1978, aware the judge would sentence him to more prison time and require his voluntary deportation, Polanski fled to France.