Although Los Angeles County prosecutors and U.S. State Department spokesmen are attempting to say the Swiss let a sex offender off the hook, the truth is the Swiss let Polanski go because U.S. prosecutors failed to turn over documents.
The decision was not based on the merits of the case. It was based on prosecutorial negligence.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
In its decision Monday, the Swiss Justice Department said it could not exclude the possibility that the extradition request was "undermined by a serious fault" because the U.S. had failed to turn over certain documents. Specifically, the Swiss wanted to determine whether the 42 days Polanski had already spent in a Los Angeles jail would have been considered sufficient time served for having sex with a minor. Also, Swiss authorities said that until 2009, the U.S. had not filed any extradition request against Polanski "for years," even though it knew he had bought a house in Switzerland in 2006 and was a regular visitor there. That gave the director a reasonable expectation that he was not under threat of arrest and deportation from there. "Roman Polanski would not have decided to go to the film festival in Zürich in September 2009 if he had not trusted that the journey would not entail any legal disadvantages for him," the Swiss justice department said.