It "did not happen," a senior administration official told CBS Radio News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.
According to the two-paragraph April 14 report in L'Express, which does not quote the alleged letter directly nor say where the information comes from, the correspondence was delivered by Sarkozy on the sidelines of a nuclear summit in Washington about a week ago.
Above: President Obama greets French President Nicolas Sarkozy during the official arrivals for the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, April 12, 2010.
In it, according to L'Express, Polanski asked Mr. Obama to end the extradition process by which California authorities are seeking to bring him back from Switzerland to face the child rape charges.
L'Express claimed that the director argued in his appeal that two months spent under house arrest in Switzerland (where he remains today), combined with 47 days he was locked up in California in 1977 should be sufficient as "time served," and that the case against him should be dropped.
The French article, which has not garnered great interest in France, has been picked up by some American blogs and at least one tabloid in Great Britain, prompting the White House response.
Mr. Obama's power to influence the case would be relatively minimal under U.S. law, as the case resides in California's court system. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not intervened.
Meanwhile, Polanski's latest credible attempt to thwart the case against him was rejected Thursday by the California 2nd District Court of Appeal. The "Rosemary's Baby" director's lawyers had sought to have Polanski sentenced in absentia to time served. The court issued no official decision in its denial of the appeal.
Hours earlier, the court rejected an appeal by Samantha Geimer, the woman who Polanski (seen above) is accused of drugging and raping in a hot-tub when she was just 13, to have the charges dismissed.
The court decisions in California make Polanski's pending extradition to California more likely.