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Roman Polanski freed after Swiss reject U.S. extradition request

Swiss authorities freed 77-year-old movie director Roman Polanski on Monday, choosing not to extradite him to Los Angeles to face sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

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Polanski was arrested in September as he flew into Zurich to be honored with a lifetime achievement award at a film festival. He received Academy Award nominations as Best Director for "Chinatown" (1974), "Tess" (1979) and "The Pianist," for which he won the 2002 Oscar.

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He was wanted for fleeing the United States three decades ago on the eve of a 1978 sentencing hearing in Los Angeles. The hearing was part of a plea bargain in which Polanski acknowledged having illegal sex with the girl during a modeling session at the home of the actor Jack Nicholson. Before the deal with Los Angeles prosecutors, Polanski also had been charged with child molestation, rape and sodomy, and providing the girl with illegal drugs.

A Los Angeles judge sentenced Polanski to prison for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation. He was released after 42 days by an evaluator who deemed him mentally sound and unlikely to offend again. The judge then said he would send Polanski back to jail for the remainder of the 90 days and that afterward he would ask Polanski to agree to a "voluntary deportation." Polanski then fled the country.

The Swiss government's main argument concerned confidential testimony by Roger Gunson, the Los Angeles attorney in charge of the original prosecution against Polanski. The Swiss asked for the transcript, but Washington rejected the request.

Based on references to Gunson's testimony in U.S. courts, the Swiss said it "should prove" that Polanski served his sentence after undergoing the diagnostic study.

Since then, Polanski has lived in his native France while avoiding countries that have strong extradition treaties with the United States.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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