Polish prosecutors on Wednesday said they received an official request from the U.S. to extradite well-known film director Roman Polanski.
Polanski, 81, fled to Europe more than three decades ago to avoid the potential for more prison time after pleading guilty to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl during an alcohol- and drug-fueled photo shoot in Los Angeles.
Before fleeing the U.S., Polanski had served 42 days in prison as part of a deal his lawyers say they thought would be the full extent of his jail time. Polanski's attorneys say the judge in the case reneged on the agreement and sought a stricter prison sentence, prompting the famed director to flee to France.
In December, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejected the Oscar-winning director's motion for a new hearing because he remains a fugitive living outside of the U.S.
Polanski was detained and questioned last year by Polish authorities regarding the outstanding U.S. arrest warrant.
Prosecutors, though, released the director, saying there were no grounds for arrest and that they would await an official U.S. extradition request before taking any further action.
An attorney for the filmmaker — who many in Poland revere as a national cultural icon — told Reuters that nothing had changed since the questioning in October.
"In our view no new circumstances have arisen which could lead to a change in the decision by the prosecutor's office in October," Jerzy Stachowicz said.
Still, a spokesman for the prosecutor general's office in Warsaw, said prosecutors "will want to summon Polanski for questioning" after receiving the extradition request from authorities out of Los Angeles.
Polanski has so far avoided returning to a Los Angeles courtroom by avoiding nations that have extradition agreements with the U.S.
Polanski holds Polish citizenship, but lives in France. The director, however, has been spending time in the city of Krakow, Poland, a location in one of his upcoming films.
The U.S. has an extradition agreement with Poland, but the treaty doesn't apply to Polish citizens unless a court rules otherwise, the New York Times reported.
After Polish prosecutors question Polanski in the U.S. sex assault case, a recommendation on the extradition request would go before a judge. But even if the judge rules in favor of extradition, the minister of justice could still overrule the decision, according to the Times.
Jason Wells is deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jason Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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