Cooley blasted the decision. Failure to extradite Polanski for sentencing is a "disservice to justice and other victims as a whole," the District Attorney said. "To justify their finding to deny extradition on an issue that is unique to California law regarding conditional examination of a potentially unavailable witness is a rejection of the competency of the California courts. The Swiss could not have found a smaller hook on which to hang their hat."
At the State Department, spokesman Crowley strongly rejected any notion that the extradition request was flawed. "A 13-year-old girl was drugged and raped by an adult. This is not a matter of technicality … we haven't tried to hide behind technicalities here. This is -- this is actually a judgment that goes back, you know, many, many years. You know, the city of Los Angeles hasn't forgotten about this case. We have not forgotten about this case."
The Swiss Justice Ministry also said the wishes of the victim, Samantha Geimer, were also taken into consideration. She had long ago identified herself and joined in Polanski's bid for dismissal. In 1997, Geimer, who is now in her early 40s, began advocating that Polanski's case should be dropped. Since then, she has continually said she forgives Polanski and does not want him to face further jail time.
Geimer could not be reached for comment on today's decision.
"The U.S. cannot appeal the decision rendered by Switzerland," Swiss Justice Ministry spokesman Philippe Piatti told ABC News. "As far as Switzerland is concerned, this extradition request is over."
Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coaltion Against Domestic Violence, criticized the decision. "It is frustrating to me that another country that sees rape as a crime, is protecting a rapist, something he admitted to doing. He should pay for the crime. Violence against women shouldn't have time limits on it."
Polanski's French and Swiss lawyers declined to make any comments to ABC News. "It's a huge relief" Herve Temime, one of Polanski's French lawyers, told 24-hour news channel LCI.
"I always considered the extradition should not be allowed" by Swiss judicial authorities, he said. "It's nonsense. The extradition request was formulated as it was based on erroneous information and facts."
The Swiss decision could mark the end of the the United States' three-decade pursuit of the Oscar-winning director, unless he travels to another country that would be willing to apprehend him and weigh sending him to Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles District Attorney's office had no immediate comment.
Smith, of the National Coaltion Against Domestic Violence, said the U.S. should not drop the case. "This particular administration says it cares a great deal about violence against women and ending it. I'd like to see a real commitment to that, even when it's difficult."
State Department spokesman Crowley said, "We think it sends a very important message, you know, regarding women. So to just -- to push this case aside based on technicalities we think is regrettable."
France, where Polanski has lived most of this time, does not extradite its own citizens, and the public scrutiny over Switzerland's deliberation may dissuade other nations from making such a spectacular arrest.