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 man."
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."