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The Swiss Justice Ministry says it has rejected a request to free film director Roman Polanski on bail pending his possible extradition to the United States.

Ministry spokesman Folco Galli said prosecutors opposed the release because the government believes there is a high risk Polanski could flee if released from custody.  Authorities also urged a Swiss court dealing with Polanski's extradition warrant to reject a separate appeal for the filmmaker's release.

The Academy Award-winning director was arrested in Zurich last month on a U.S. arrest warrant for fleeing Los Angeles ahead of a 1978 court sentencing for statutory rape.

Polanski, famed for such films as Chinatown and Rosemary's Baby, was originally charged in Los Angeles with having sex with a 13-year-old girl.  He fled the United States in 1978 while awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty.

The fugitive director won an Academy Award in 2003 for the film The Pianist, but did not return to Hollywood to receive the Oscar.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, Reuters.