PARIS, France (CNN) — French authorities expressed solidarity with Roman Polanski’s family Monday after authorities arrested the filmmaker on a 1970s sexual-offense charge involving a 13-year-old girl.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he hoped authorities would respect Polanski’s rights “and that the affair (will) come to a favorable resolution,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The French culture and communications minister, Frederic Mitterrand, said he “learned with astonishment” of Polanski’s arrest. He expressed solidarity with Polanski’s family and said “he wants to remind everyone that Roman Polanski benefits from great general esteem” and has “exceptional artistic creation and human qualities.”
Investigators in the United States say Polanski drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl in the 1970s. Polanski pleaded guilty in 1977 to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, but he fled the United States before he could be sentenced and settled in France.
U.S. authorities have had a warrant for his arrest since 1978. Police in Switzerland arrested Polanski on that warrant Saturday after the 76-year-old tried to enter Switzerland to attend the Zurich Film Festival, which is holding a tribute to Polanski this year.
Mitterrand said he has spoken with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and that Sarkozy “shares his hope for a rapid resolution to the situation which would allow Roman Polanski to rejoin his family as quickly as possible.”
Mitterrand said he “greatly regrets that Mr. Polanski has had yet another difficulty added to an already turbulent existence.”
Polanski won an Academy Award for Best Director in 2003 for “The Pianist.” He was nominated for best director Oscars for “Tess” and “Chinatown,” and for best writing for “Rosemary’s Baby,” which he also directed.
A spokesman for the Swiss Justice Ministry said Polanski was arrested upon arrival at the airport.
A provisional arrest warrant was issued last week out of Los Angeles, California, after authorities learned he was going to be in Switzerland, Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, told CNN on Sunday.
There have been repeated attempts to settle the case over the years, but the sticking point has always been Polanski’s refusal to return to attend hearings. Prosecutors have consistently argued that it would be a miscarriage of justice to allow a man to go free who “drugged and raped a 13-year-old child.”
The Swiss Justice Ministry said Polanski was put “in provisional detention.” But whether he can be extradited to the United States “can be established only after the extradition process judicially has been finalized,” ministry spokesman Guido Balmer said in an e-mail.
“It is possible to appeal at the federal penal court of justice against an arrest warrant in view to extradition as well as against an extradition decision,” Balmer wrote. “Their decisions can be taken further to the federal court of justice.”