As we’ve written repeatedly, Roman Polanski fulfilled every condition of the plea bargain approved by the judge in the case — including time in state prison — and only fled the country after the judge, acting on explicitly illegal grounds.
Besides garnering endless tabloid headlines, the Polish-born film director and his plight also popped up in those diplomatic cables currently being released by WikiLeaks.
We’ve found two references so far, including a quote from the late White House special diplomatic envoy Richard Holbrooke.
The first mention pops up in a cable from Ambassador to Switzerland Donald S. Beyer sent on 8 October 2009 to relay the substance of a conversation with Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey.
The cable, classified SECRET, is here.
The relevant paragraphs:
¶1. (S) I and the rest of the Embassy Bern team are looking forward to your visit with great anticipation in what promises to be a landmark event in Armenian-Turkish relations with lasting benefits for Euro-Atlantic security. Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey is riding high on a series of foreign policy successes, from the Swiss government’s agreement with DOJ in the UBS matter, to Switzerland’s hosting of the October 1 P5 1 talks with Iran in Geneva, to the upcoming October 10 signing ceremony in Zurich to chart a path for normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia.
¶2. (S) While Calmy-Rey has reasons to celebrate, her foreign policy activism is not universally appreciated across the domestic political spectrum in Switzerland. Swiss views are colored by Switzerland’s centuries-old tradition of neutrality. Issues that draw on the Swiss capacity for facilitation and mediation, such as Turkish-Armenian rapprochement, generally enjoy strong public support. On the other hand, foreign policy activism with a more partisan or “hard” security flavor, such as Calmy-Rey’s vociferous support for Kosovo independence, or her recent all out — but ultimately unsuccessful — effort to obtain a parliamentary mandate for Swiss military participation in the EU anti-piracy operation Atalanta, do not enjoy the same broad public support. The recent arrest at the Zurich airport of film director Roman Polanski was viewed by Calmy-Rey as putting a dent in Switzerland’s international image. Nevertheless, she has limited her criticism to remarking that the arrest lacked “finesse,” and surely is aware that Swiss public opinion favors Polanski’s extradition to the United States.
The second cable, sent 26 February of this year, describes a conversation between Holbrooke and Kazakhstan’s State Secretary-Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev five days earlier.
The cable, classified CONFIDENTIAL, is here.
The relevant paragraph refers to the 3 Spetember 2009 conviction of Kazakh human rights activist Yevgeniy Zhovtis:
¶12. (C) Saudabayev observed that the “unprecedented pressure” being placed on Kazakhstan as a result of the Zhovtis conviction is “not viewed positively in our society.” He acknowledged that the “only legitimate way out” for Zhovtis would be via presidential pardon, but said, “that is the prerogative of our president.” Attempting to draw a parallel, Saudabayev added that he admired the “persistence” of the U.S. judicial system in its persistent attempts to get film director Roman Polanski, “even though he was forgiven by the victim.” Holbrooke took strong exception, noting that Polanski fled justice, escaped the law, and has been living free despite his conviction by a U.S. court.
Holbrooke is wrong: Polanski fled injustice, not justice. And while Holbrooke said he “has been living free,” the director’s travels were tightly restricted, and before his arrest had been largely limited to France, Germany, and Switzerland, the scene of his arrest and months-long incarceration and house arrest.