GSTAAD, Switzerland -
Roman Polanski was declared a free man on Monday and no longer confined to house arrest in his Alpine villa after Swiss
authorities rejected a U.S. request for his extradition because of a
32-year-old sex conviction.
The decision left the Oscar-winning
director free to return to France and the life of a celebrity, albeit
one unable to visit the United States.
Hours after the ruling was
announced, Polanski's assistant said he had left his multi-million
dollar chalet with his family. Half-empty glasses seen on a back porch
testified to a hasty exit.
"Mr. Polanski can now move freely,"
Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf declared. "He's a free
Switzerland, which arrested the 76-year-old Polanski last
September as he arrived receive a lifetime achievement award at a Zurich
film festival, blamed U.S. authorities for its decision, citing a
possible "fault in the U.S. extradition request."