ZURICH – Director Roman Polanski was arrested by Swiss police as he flew in for the Zurich Film Festival and faces possible extradition to the United States for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl, authorities said Sunday.

Polanski was scheduled to receive an honorary award at the festival when he was apprehended Saturday at the airport, the Swiss Justice Ministry said in a statement. It said U.S. authorities have sought the arrest of the 76-year-old director around the world since 2005.

"There was a valid arrest request and we knew when he was coming," ministry spokesman Guido Balmer told The Associated Press. "That's why he was taken into custody."

Polanski, the director of such classic films as "Chinatown," "Rosemary's Baby," fled the U.S. in 1978, a year after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with the underage girl.

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"In Paris, Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said he was "dumbfounded" by Polanski's arrest, adding that he "strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them."

Those comments referred to the fact that Polanski, a native of France who was taken to Poland by his parents, escaped Krakow's Jewish ghetto as a child during World War II and lived off the charity of strangers. His mother died at the Nazis' Auschwitz death camp.

Mitterrand's office said Sunday that he was in contact with French President Nicolas Sarkozy "who is following the case with great attention and shares the minister's hope that the situation can be quickly resolved."

Polanski is a pedophile, why do the French care that he is in custody for child sex, sex that he has admitted to. Is he suppose to exempt because he is an "artist"?