Wikipedia locks Polanski page after editing war

SAN FRANCISCO - A Wikipedia page devoted to Roman Polanski was locked yesterday due to fighting over whether the entry should emphasise his accomplishments as a film-maker or his underage sex case.

A message at the popular online encyclopedia told visitors to the Polanski page that it is "currently protected... until disputes have been resolved."

After Polanski's arrest on Saturday in Zurich, his Wikipedia entry was subject to a tug-of-war between editors convinced it should stress his film career and those who think his sex crime arrest should define his life.

The 76-year-old Polish-French film maker was arrested on the decades-old charges after he flew in to Zurich to collect a lifetime achievement award at the Swiss city's film festival.

He pleaded guilty before a US court in 1978 as part of a deal with prosecutors building a criminal case against Polanski for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

But Polanski fled before sentencing and has been pursued by US justice since then.

Polanski's lawyer announced on Monday he had refused to be extradited from Switzerland to the United States, paving the way for a legal battle in Swiss courts.

"The fact that he is a rapist ought to be the very first thing that the reader sees in the article," a Wikipedia editor argued in a forum linked to the Polanski page. "I don't care if every one of his films won him an Oscar."

Polanski achieved international acclaim for movies such as Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown and The Pianist, which won several Academy Awards.

"Polanski is first and foremost notable for his work as film director," argued another Wikipedia editor, adding that without those accomplishments he "wouldn't even be in the news."

One Wikipedia editor suggested combining film work and sex crime in a compromise lead along the lines of "Polanski is a Polish-French film director, producer, writer, actor and convicted child molester."

- AFP

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