American Embassy in Switzerland Submits Request for Polanski's Extradition

According to Swiss authorities, Roman Polanski could spend up to two years in prison if he was extradited back to the United States.

Earlier this morning Swiss officials said in a statement that U.S. officials formally asked Swiss officials to extradite the famed director, 76, to Los Angeles, where he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl more than 30 years ago. Polanski fled to Europe just before sentencing for that crime.

Los Angeles County prosecutors have refused to say what kind of sentence they would seek for Polanski if he returns to Los Angeles, and they could not immediately be reached for comment today.

Last month, prosecutors said the proceedings should pick up exactly where they left off in 1978 -- with a judge sentencing Polanski for a statutory rape charge. "He will appear before the court and the court will decide what his sentence is," said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, told The Times in late September, after Polanski was arrested in Zurich, The Los Angeles Times reports.

It was also reported, Polanski's lawyer Herve Temime, who has been his main spokesman in this case, declined comment on Friday.

Polanski's legal team has sent out mixed messages on its strategy. Temime has insisted the Oscar-winning director will fight extradition. But earlier this week, Georges Kiejman, another of Polanski's lawyers, told French radio that, instead of spending years in a Swiss jail, Polanski might voluntarily decide to face justice in the U.S.

The 76-year-old director, who holds dual French and Polish citizenship, was arrested last month as he flew to Switzerland to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival.

Five days before his arrival, Swiss authorities contacted the U.S. Justice Department's Office of International Affairs to ask if the warrant for Polanski's arrest was still active, Hollywood Reporter reports.

News agencies also report, the American Embassy in Bern submitted the request on Thursday to the Federal Office of Justice in Switzerland, where Mr. Polanski has been imprisoned since his arrest on Sept. 26 at the Zurich airport. With that paperwork filed, Swiss authorities will now forward the demand to the canton of Zurich to hold a hearing on the issue, according to a statement from the Swiss federal office, The New York Times reports.

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