US tipped off by film festival website

In the end, Google succeeded where three decades of detective work and diplomatic endeavour failed, and LA's District Attorney's Office was finally able to nab the self-confessed child sex offender who'd been cocking a snook at them for so long.

Earlier this month, the DA's office stumbled upon the Zurich Film Festival's website. They were astonished to see it advertise the fact that the 76-year-old film director would be appearing there to accept a "special award".

Twice previously, they had attempted to nab Polanski when he visited countries that had extradition agreements with the US. On both occasions he'd been tipped off about their plans and decided to stay at home in France. This time, the DA's office was more discrete, waiting until the last minute to forward an arrest warrant to the US Justice Department, who then presented it to the Swiss authorities while the fugitive was already en route to the Alpine nation.

"It wasn't a big secret he was going to be in Zurich: they had announced it on the internet," said DA spokeswoman, Sandi Gibbons. She added that if Polanski decides to appeal against extradition it will be "two or three months" until he returns to the US.

The big question now is why the Swiss suddenly agreed to the US request. The two countries have boasted reciprocal extradition agreements since the early 1990s, but although Polanski regularly holidayed in Switzerland, and even owned a home there, he had never faced difficulties at immigration.

One explanation for the apparent change of policy would be that the US simply never previously asked Switzerland to arrest him. Another, more intriguing one, links this weekend's events to a scandal that has engulfed the Swiss bank UBS.

The firm recently admitted helping thousands of wealthy Americans evade their taxes. It is currently negotiating with the IRS to hand over the account details of all US clients, after UBS employees were threatened with prosecution. Not only is the affair a potential PR disaster for Switzerland, the favoured bankers of Nazis, third-world dictators and major criminals, it also threatens to undermine the entire business model of their most lucrative industry.

Some commentators therefore wonder whether Polanski's arrest represents some sort of quid pro quo. The AP news agency accidentally leaked a memo from a correspondent saying the Swiss are now "under intense pressure over UBS and want to throw the US a bone". It is a theory Swiss authorities have been swift to reject.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence