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Polanski appeals against extradition custody

The Swiss Federal Criminal Court says film director Roman Polanski has filed a legal request to be released from detention.

This content was published on September 29, 2009 - 12:31

The court said in a statement on Tuesday that it will make a decision on the matter "in the next weeks". Any verdict is subject to appeal from both sides.

Leading figures from the film-making world - including fellow directors Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and David Lynch - have signed an international petition calling for Polanski's release.

The renowned Polish-French director was arrested on Saturday as he arrived in Zurich to receive a film festival award for his life's work. He is being held in prison awaiting possible extradition to the United States.

On Tuesday Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey defended Polanski's arrest from a legal point of view, but criticised the circumstances of his arrest.

"It is seen as unfriendly and might show a certain lack of finesse to invite him to a festival and then arrest him," she told journalists.

She dismissed allegations that Switzerland was doing a special favour to the US to win their respect.

Calmy-Rey said there was no other option but to act and all citizens were treated equally under Swiss rule of law.

She added that she had explained the legal system in conversations with her French and Polish counterparts over the past few days.

Although Polanski is a regular visitor to Switzerland, Bern says it moved to arrest him on this occasion in accordance with a mandate from Washington, which told them the number of the flight and its time of arrival in Switzerland.

The Oscar winner had fled the US in 1978 on the eve of being sentenced for drugging and having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

He has lived ever since in France, which, like Switzerland, will not extradite its own citizens to the US.

Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch and agencies

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