Polanski moved from prison: Swiss Justice Min

Thu Dec 3, 2009 12:22pm EST
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ZURICH (Reuters) - Film director Roman Polanski has been moved from a prison near Zurich to an undisclosed location before his release on bail scheduled for Friday, the Swiss Justice Ministry said.

"He's been taken to another place to protect his privacy and for safety reasons," ministry spokesman Folco Galli said.

He declined to give any details on where Polanski had been taken but confirmed he would spend his house arrest, which will begin Friday, at his chalet in the skiing resort of Gstaad.

"Transferring him to Gstaad will take place tomorrow," Galli said.

Polanski is fighting extradition to face U.S. sentencing over a 1977 case of unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. He pleaded guilty to one count of sex with a minor but fled before the case was concluded, fearing a heavy sentence.

The 76-year-old Oscar-winning director, who holds dual French and Polish citizenship, was arrested at the request of the United States when he flew into Switzerland on September 26 to receive a lifetime achievement prize at a film festival.

The Swiss Justice Department is expected to decide on Polanski's possible extradition within weeks but he could appeal, potentially dragging out the dispute for months.

Polanski pleaded guilty to having sex with the girl but fled the United States on the eve of his 1978 sentencing because he believed a judge might put him in jail for 50 years.

Polanski's films include "The Pianist" in 2002 for which he won an Academy Award, "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown."

(Reporting by Sven Egenter; Editing by Angus MacSwan)