Poland reacts to Polanski arrest

By Krzysztof Kwiatkowski
    The Polish government and Polish filmmakers have reacted with outrage over the arrest of director Roman Polanski during the week-end.

    A prominent group of Polish filmmakers issued an open letter to the President of Poland, as well as the Ministers of Culture and Foreign Affairs, demanding immediate action to free Polanski and prevent his extradition to the USA.

    In their statement, the filmmakers declare:

    "What happened 30 years ago and the role Polanski played in it deserves negative moral evaluation. But we also want to point out that for Roman Polanski, leaving the United States was an escape from a court lynching. We find the fact that the US government has never admitted that the indictment prepared by the prosecutor then was nothing more than law abuse to be outrageous, and makes Polanski's decision to flee the country understandable.

    "The events that according to any European law would be subject to the statute of limitations, and have taken place in a socially different culture, may and should not be judged after so many years in a way that shatters a man's life, and what is more, the life of his family."

    The letter was signed by numerous leaders in the Polish filmmaking community, among them Jacek Bromski, the head of the Polish Filmmakers Association, Agnieszka Odorowicz, the head of Poland's Film Institute, Polish director Andrzej Wajda, as well as Polish artists including Jerzy Skolimowski, Janusz Głowacki, Andrzej Jakimowski, Janusz Morgenstern, Małgorzata Szumowska.

    The majority of the media has been defending Polanski, pointing to Marina Zenovich's Polanski documentary Wanted and Desired, and the fact that Polanski fled France in 1978 in fear of a show trial and possible life imprisonment. However, some individual editorialists have endorsed the U.S. actions.

    The Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Radosław Sikorski, announced he has already spoken to his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, and they agreed to make a joint appeal to the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton for Polanski to be released from the Swiss extradition custody. On the the opposing side, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk stated that media is devoting too much time to the case of Roman Polanski, which is thesubject of law and morality instead of politics.