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The Independent Quietly Restored Harvey Weinstein's Defence Of Roman Polanski After It Vanished For Weeks

Wait, what?

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Since the shocking allegations against Harvey Weinstein emerged last month, several people have noticed the disgraced film mogul once wrote a passionate defence of director Roman Polanski.

Yann Coatsaliou / AFP / Getty Images

The Independent published Weinstein's op-ed in 2009, which said Polanski had "served his time and must be freed" after the director had previously admitted to raping a 13-year-old child in 1977.

Weinstein wrote:

Roman Polanski is a man who cares deeply about his art and its place in this world. What happened to him on his incredible path is filled with tragedy, and most men would have collapsed. Instead, he became a great artist and continues to make great films. I was with him the day he won the Legion of Honour in France, which was a spectacular day. I remember the incredible love and affection that people have for him.

But, as Private Eye reported two weeks ago, the piece suddenly disappeared from the internet without any explanation.

NBC Universal

And over the last few days, several US-based Twitter users started noticing this, then tweeting out the screenshot of the empty page behind the old URL.

Hi, @Independent. In 2009, Harvey Weinstein published the Op-Ed "Roman Polanski Has Served His Time and Must Be Fre… https://t.co/zllFVkYjJy

In a helpful development, they also tweeted a cached version of the op-ed.

The Independent deleted this 2009 H. Weinstein op-ed from its website w/o a trace. (1: https://t.co/d7gnFHP1DH 2:… https://t.co/4r2c7GOMui

WOW the @Independent deleted this 2009 op-ed by Harvey Weinstein defending Roman Polanski. Good catch @nycsouthpaw… https://t.co/clDdYCzS7h

It started circulating around social media again, with people calling out the Independent for removing it.

The Independent Gets Caught Deleting Harvey Weinstein Op-Ed in Which He Defended Roman Polanski… https://t.co/PSqjMEopMp

Well, BuzzFeed News contacted the Independent's editor and managing editor on Monday, while the piece was still down, asking for the rationale for its removal.

Four hours later, there was a reply from the website's editor, Christian Broughton, which basically said, "What are you talking about? It's online."

He was right. Weinstein's Polanski defence had reappeared, with the headline changed and a new disclaimer at the top.

The Independent

"This article was published some years before allegations of sexual abuse were made against its author," it now reads. "As with many comment pieces this is not and was not a reflection of The Independent's editorial view."

Later, Broughton did admit the piece had been taken down "temporarily" when the allegations against Weinstein emerged and put back up to make the context more "clear".

There you go. The piece is back, but only after questions were asked about why it had vanished for weeks.


Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at mark.distefano@buzzfeed.com.

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