Celebrity Polanski petition

2009-09-28 13:22

Paris - Actors and film directors from around the world have put their names to a petition denouncing the arrest of director Roman Polanski in Switzerland and demanding that he be freed, French media reported on Monday.

The artists who joined the demand for Polanski's "immediate release" from a Zurich jail include actresses Fanny Ardant and Monica Bellucci, directors Ettore Scola, Wong Kar-wai and Costa-Gavras and the president of the Cannes film festival, Gilles Jacob.

A number of film associations, including the Cannes festival, also threw their official support behind the demand.

In addition, newly elected Unesco director-general Irina Bokova told French TV5 that the arrest of the 76-year-old Polanski under a 31-year-old US arrest warrant on charges of sex abuse was "shocking".

'Frightening America'

French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterand called the arrest "absolutely appalling".

"We know the conditions under which (the arrest) took place. And as there is an America that is generous and which we love, there is also this America that frightens us, and it is this America that has now shown us its face," Mitterand told Europe 1 radio.

Polanski's French attorney, Herve Temime, told the daily Le Figaro that he would demand Polanski's release.

"It appears that there is a problem of a statute of limitations in a case in which... the supposed victim of the crime withdrew her complaint long ago," he said.

The woman Polanski is accused of sexually abusing in 1977, when she was 13, long ago publicly forgave Polanski.