24 Oct 2009

US requests Polanski's extradition

3:01 pm on 24 October 2009

The United States has formally asked Switzerland to extradite film director Roman Polanski on sex charges, Swiss officials say.

The BBC reports Polanski has been wanted in the US since he fled the country in 1978 after pleading guilty to having unlawful sex with an under-age girl.

He was detained held in Zurich in September, after travelling from France to collect an award at the city's film festival and lost an appeal to be released on bail from a Swiss jail.

The Swiss justice ministry said in a statement that the US Embassy in Bern submitted the formal extradition request within a 40-day deadline stipulated under the countries' bilateral extradition treaty.

The statement said that if the ministry approved the US request, Polanski might appeal against the decision.

The director, who holds dual French and Polish citizenship, was originally charged with six offences, but pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with the 13-year-old girl following a plea bargain.

He has not set foot in the US since taking flight, and has settled in France.