BERN, Switzerland (AP) -- Roman Polanski lost the first round Tuesday in his battle to avoid extradition to the U.S. for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.
Already locked in a Zurich cell for the last dozen days, Polanski learned he will remain incarcerated for an extended period as the Swiss Justice Ministry rejected his plea to be released from custody.
Swiss authorities expressed fear he might flee the country if freed from prison. The director of such film classics as "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown" has been wanted by U.S. authorities since fleeing sentencing 31 years ago.
"We continue to be of the opinion that there is a high risk of flight," said ministry spokesman Folco Galli, explaining the decision.
Galli told The Associated Press that the threat was too great for the government to accept bail or other security measures in exchange for the release of the filmmaker.
Polanski was apprehended Sept. 26 as he arrived in Zurich to receive an award from a film festival. Authorities in Los Angeles consider him a convicted felon and a fugitive, and Switzerland says there has been an international warrant out on him since 2005.
Polanski's legal representatives are also appealing to Switzerland's federal criminal court to free the director. Galli said the Justice Ministry has submitted a letter to the tribunal explaining why it opposes release even on bail.
Legal experts say Polanski stands a minimal chance of a speedy release, even if his lawyers have suggested he be held under house arrest in his chalet in the luxury resort of Gstaad.