PARIS - Filmmaker Roman Polanski, breaking a months-long silence, said yesterday that the US is demanding his extradition from Switzerland on a 33-year-old sex case largely to serve him "on a platter to the media".
Polanski, who is under house arrest in his Alpine Swiss chalet, laid out his case against extradition on an online magazine run by one of his staunchest supporters, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy.
"I have had my share of dramas and joys, as we all have, and I am not going to try to ask you to pity my lot in life," he wrote.
"I ask only to be treated fairly like anyone else."
Polanski suggests the case against him is unjust and riddled with problems. Each argument begins with the phrase: "I can remain silent no longer."
One of Polanski's complaints is that Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, "who is handling this case and has requested [the] extradition, is himself campaigning for election and needs media publicity!" Cooley is running for California attorney general.
The district attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said the office "will withhold comment until the Swiss make a decision on his fugitive status".
Swiss authorities are trying to decide whether to extradite Polanski to Los Angeles for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.
Polanski was arrested seven months ago as he arrived in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award at a film festival.
The Oscar-winning director of Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown and The Pianist was put behind bars for more than two months before being transferred on US$4.5 million bail to house arrest in the luxury resort of Gstaad. Polanski wrote in the online magazine, La Regle du Jeu, that he had mortgaged his apartment to pay the bail.
Three decades ago, Polanski was accused of plying his victim with champagne and part of a Quaalude during a modelling shoot and raping her. He was initially indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molesting and sodomy. He later pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse.
What happened after that is a subject of dispute. The defence says the now deceased judge, Laurence J. Rittenband, had agreed in meetings with attorneys to sentence Polanski to a 90-day diagnostic study and nothing more.
But the judge later changed his mind and summoned Polanski for further sentencing - at which time he fled to his native France, attorneys said.
Polanski claimed the judge "betrayed" him and wanted "to gain himself some publicity at my expense". He said the request for his extradition is "founded on a lie".
Polanski said retired Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson, who worked on the case three decades ago, has confirmed his take on events under oath.
The director's lawyers have argued that unsealing transcripts of Gunson's secret testimony would show the extradition request is based on false and incomplete statements by the Los Angeles district attorney's office.
Polanski added: "I can no longer remain silent because the United States continues to demand my extradition more to serve me on a platter to the media of the world than to pronounce a judgment concerning which an agreement was reached 33 years ago."
The filmmaker has kept largely silent under house arrest. In December, he released a message thanking his supporters for their letters.