The arrest of film director Roman Polanski in Switzerland on charges of fleeing sentencing for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles pushed a 31-year-old case into the diplomatic realm, says the Washington Post. Polanski, 76, was arrested at the Zurich airport Saturday by Swiss authorities acting at the request of the Los Angeles district attorney’s office. Prosecutors had learned of the Oscar-winning director’s plans to attend a film festival in his honor, and passed a request through the U.S. Justice Department.
The arrest outraged the government of France, which has refused to extradite Polanski since he fled to his native land in 1978, after a Los Angeles judge signaled he would scotch a plea agreement in the sex case. In France, Polanski is revered both as a filmmaker and as a martyr to American injustice and puritanism. Bill Flicker, a film editor who once worked with Polanski in France said, “It’s stupid and a waste of resources. I don’t understand why they are doing it.”