(CN) – Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski will not be extradited to the United States to face charges that he had sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977, a Swiss official said, citing a flaw in the Justice Department’s application for his extradition.
“Mr. Polanski can now move freely,” Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said at a press conference Monday. “He’s a free man.”
Widmer-Schlumpf said U.S. authorities failed to provide records from a hearing that would have established whether the director had already served his sentence, as his defense claimed, through time spent in a psychiatric ward.
The Polish-born filmmaker fled California on the eve of his sentencing in the 1970s, reportedly because he feared the presiding judge would renege on a deal to avoid prison time.
He was arrested in Zurich last September on an international warrant, but was allowed to move to his mountain chalet under house arrest on $4.5 million bail until Swiss authorities decided whether to extradite him.
“I’m obviously very happy for Roman,” George Kiejman, one of Polanski’s lawyers, told The New York Times. “I believe there is too much pride in the attitude of the American authorities.”
Polanski’s films include “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown” and “The Pianist,” for which he won an Oscar.