Swiss authorities reject bail for Polanski

Justice Ministry believes there is a flight risk

COLOGNE, Germany -- Swiss authorities have refused bail for Roman Polanski, arrested last month on a decades-old sex charge, saying the 76-year-old director is a flight risk.

A spokesman for the Swiss Federal Office of Justice on Tuesday said "bail or other measures" could not guarantee Polanski would not flee the country. The justice office has called on a Swiss Penal Court to reject Polanski's appeal to be released.

Polanski pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 but fled the U.S. in 1978, on the eve of his sentencing. The director reportedly believed the judge in the case intended to overrule his plea and throw him in jail for 50 years.

Local police arrested Polanski at the request of the U.S. on Sept. 26, as the Oscar-winning director of "The Pianist" arrived in Switzerland to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival. He is fighting extradition.

The Polanksi arrest has become a cause celebre in the film industry on both sides of the Atlantic. Weinstein Co. topper Harvey Weinstein, Festival de Cannes director Thierry Fremaux, Berlinale boss Dieter Kosslick and directors Pedro Almodovar, Costa-Gavras, Wong Kar Wai and Fatih Akin are among the A-list names calling for Polanski to be freed.