Switzerland yesterday refused to extradite Roman Polanski to the United States to face sentencing for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and freed the Oscar-winning director from 10 months’ arrest.


“He is a free man,” Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told a news conference in Berne, Switzerland’s capital. “He can go to France or to Poland, anywhere where he will not be arrested.”


Widmer-Schlumpf said she had decided against extradition because of potential technical faults in the U.S. request and also because Polanski had for years come to Switzerland in good faith.


Polanski, 76, who won a best director Oscar for his portrait of life in the Warsaw Jewish ghetto of World War II in “The Pianist,” was arrested on Sept. 26 upon arrival in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award at a film festival.

He had been under house arrest since December 2009 at his mountain chalet in the chic ski town of Gstaad on a $4.26 million bail.