WASHINGTON (AP) - The Justice Department said Thursday that the Los Angeles district attorney’s Office approved the denial of a Swiss request for information in the Roman Polanski case. Swiss officials say the denial led to the fugitive filmmaker’s release.
The Justice Department said that it kept the district attorney’s office fully informed of all requests from Swiss authorities regarding the effort to have Polanski extradited to the United States.
The department said the DA’s office provided input and “approved all responses from the U.S. government to Swiss authorities on this matter,” including one rejecting a request to turn over sealed testimony that proved pivotal in Switzerland’s decision to free Polanski.
“The Department of Justice and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office worked in close coordination on this important extradition request,” Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said in an e-email.
The Swiss government says it asked the Justice Department to release sealed transcripts in the Polanski case just days before a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles told a judge that the Swiss did not request that information.
The Justice Department pointed out that the Swiss were provided with a copy of the Dec. 21, 2009, California Court of Appeals decision in the Polanski case. The decision summarized and contained some quotes from an affidavit that covered the same ground as subsequent detailed testimony this year that Swiss officials said they wanted.
The Swiss blame the denial of extradition on the Justice Department’s refusal to turn over transcripts of testimony by the film director’s original prosecutor to Swiss officials.
The Swiss had said from the beginning that their extradition laws allowed Polanski to be sent to the United States only if he was going to be required to serve at least six months in prison. They sought the testimony of original prosecutor Roger Gunson to clarify the matter.
(This version CORRECTS that information was in an affidavit, not oral testimony, and details timing on each.) )
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