The District Attorney in Los Angeles said today, he still hopes to bring Roman Polanski back to the United States to face justice.
"We will discuss with the Department of Justice the extradition of Roman Polanski if he's arrested in a cooperative jurisdiction," D.A. Steve Cooley said.
"I am deeply disappointed that the Swiss authorities denied the request to extradite Roman Polanski," Cooley said in a prepared statement. "Our office complied fully with all of the factual and legal requirements of the extradition treaty and requests by the U.S. and Swiss Departments of Justice and State.
Officials in Los Angeles and Washington were considering their options, after Swiss authorities rejected a U.S request to extradite the film director on a charge he raped a 13-year-old girl after drugging her during a 1977 modeling shoot in Los Angeles.
The Oscar-winning Polanski -- who directed "Rosemary's Baby," "Chinatown" and "The Pianist," -- is wanted in the U.S. after he pleaded guilty in 1977 to having unlawful sex with 13-year-old Samantha Geimer at the home of actor Jack Nicholson.
He spent 42 days in a California jail where he underwent a psychiatric evaluation and was deemed mentally fit. Fearing he might be sent back to jail, or even face a long-term prison sentence, Polanski fled the country.
The Swiss said the extradition request was flawed, and questioned whether Polanski had already served his sentence because he had been released by the psychiatric evaluator.
In Washington, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said, "We are deeply disappointed. We thought our extradition request was completely supported by the treaty, completely supported by the facts of the law and the underlying conduct was of course very serious. We are going to review what our options are. There is no masking the fact that we are deeply disappointed by what occurred."
State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said, "The United States believes that the rape of a 13-year-old child by an adult is a crime. And we continue to pursue justice in this case"
Polanski, who has been under house arrest for nine months, was immediately declared a free man -- the electronic foot bracelet used to monitor his movements was turned off. French media reported seeing a car leave the chalet in Gstaad where Polanski has been staying since December, but it could not be verified whether Polanski was in the car.
"The 76-year-old French-Polish film director Roman Polanski will not be extradited to the USA," the Swiss Justice Ministry said in a statement. "The freedom-restricting measures against him have been revoked."
"Mr. Polanski can now move freely. Since 12:30 today, he's a free man," Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said.
Key to the decision was the refusal by U.S. authorities to provide the Swiss with records of a confidential hearing with public prosecutor Roger Gunson, who was in charge of the case in the 1970s.
"First, I would like to say, it is not about qualifying the crime, that is not our task. It is also not about deciding guilt or innocence," Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said during a press conference today in Bern.