After fleeing the United States in 1978, Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski was arrested Saturday by Swiss police and faces possible extradition to back to the U.S. for having sex with a thirteen-year-old girl in 1977.
Set to receive an honorary award at the Zurich Film Festival, the director, 76, was taken into custody upon his arrival at the airport, the Associated Press reports. Polanski's arrest has said to have been sought globally for the past four years.
"There was a valid arrest request and we knew when he was coming," ministry spokesman Guido Balmer told The Associated Press. "That's why he was taken into custody." Balmer also added that the U.S. needs to make a formal extradition request.
In the statement released by Swiss authorities, Polanski is said to be in "provisional detention for extradition," but will not be transferred to U.S. authorities until all proceedings are completed. He has the right to contest his detention and any extradition decision in Swiss courts.
The filmmaker, who helmed such projects as Rosemary's Baby and 2002's The Pianist, fled the U.S. in the 70s after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old. Polanski, who has lived for the last 30 years in France, left the country before his sentencing, and has since asked a judge to dismiss the case against him.
Earlier this year, a California judge demanded Polanski return to the U.S. in order to formally apply for the case's dismissal, but when he refused to appear in person for fear of being arrested as a fugitive, Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza denied his request.
Polanski, who received a directing Oscar for The Pianist, is married to French actress Emanuelle Seigner, and has two children.
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