Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 12:56 UK

Arnie wades into Polanski debate

Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski fled to France after pleading guilty in the original case

Roman Polanski should not get special treatment because he is a "big-time movie director", California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has said.

The French-Polish director is being held in Switzerland on a US arrest warrant over his 1977 conviction for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Asked if he would pardon 76-year-old Polanski, Mr Schwarzenegger told CNN he would treat the case like any other.

Film-makers and French officials have spoken out against his arrest.

I think that he is a very respected person and I am a big admirer of his work. But, nevertheless, I think he should be treated like everyone else
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Mr Schwarzenegger said: "It doesn't matter if you are a big-time movie actor or a big-time movie director or producer.

"I think that he is a very respected person and I am a big admirer of his work.

"But, nevertheless, I think he should be treated like everyone else."

Polanski - who faces extradition to the US - was detained in Switzerland as he travelled from France to collect a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival.

He pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with an under-age girl following a plea bargain - he had originally been charged with six offences including rape and sodomy.

But he fled the US in 1978 before he could be sentenced and has not returned to the country since.

'No persecution'

Mr Schwarzenegger added: "And one should look into all of the allegations, not only his allegations, but the allegations about his case.

I don't persecute anybody and it's a matter of court processes being concluded
Los Angeles County district attorney Steve Cooley

"Was there something done wrong? You know, was injustice done in the case?"

Meanwhile, Los Angeles County district attorney Steve Cooley has said his office is not "persecuting" Polanski by trying to resolve the case.

"I don't persecute anybody and it's a matter of court processes being concluded," he said.

"There's a Superior Court bench warrant outstanding, it's been executed and there will be further court proceedings."

A petition has been signed by film-makers including Pedro Almodovar and Stephen Frears, and actors including Monica Bellucci and Fanny Ardant, expressing dismay at Mr Polanski's arrest.

Other Hollywood luminaries, including film producer Harvey Weinstein, have called for Mr Polanski's release.

Meanwhile, French culture minister Frederic Mitterrand has questioned whether Polanski would get a fair hearing in the US.

"There are concerns over the absolutely incredible media lynching to which Roman Polanski was subjected 30 years ago," he said.



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