Oscar winner Roman Polanski, who fled the United States and has been out of the country for three decades for his alleged unlawful sex with a minor, was arrested at the Zurich Film festival, reports from Switzerland said Sunday.
Polanski was arrested at the Zurich airport and is now in custody of the Swiss Justice Ministry, according to the report. He was there to accept a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival Saturday. The organizer decided to award him for his important contribution to the film production in spite of the fact that he is wanted by the U.S. government.
The arrest was related to Polanski fleeing the country after pleading guilty in 1977 to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles, Sandi Gibbons of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said. Switzerland does have an extradition treaty with the United States, but Polanski, as a citizen of France, might have some protection under that country's limited extradition treaty.
An extradition hearing would be held in Zurich, but it was unclear when Polanski might be brought to California to face the charges, Gibbons said.
The 76-year-old director, known for the 2002 Academy Award- winning "The Pianist," was charged with having sex with Samantha Geimer at Jack Nicholson's house during a photo shoot. She sued Polanski and got an undisclosed settlement. Later, she came out in support of Polanski's bid to get the charges dismissed.
After pleading guilty, he spent 42 days in custody, but fled to France the following year while awaiting sentencing on his guilty plea in Los Angeles and has not since returned. The United States has sought his arrest worldwide for the past five years or so, Gibbons said.