Polish director Roman Polanski attends a news conference for the film Chacun son Cinema at the 60th Cannes Film Festival May 20, 2007. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Film director Roman Polanski, now in Swiss detention, may decide to face justice in the United States, where he is wanted on a 1977 sex charge, to avoid lengthy extradition procedures, one of his lawyers said on Wednesday.

The Oscar-winning director was arrested in Switzerland on September 26 in connection with the sex case. A Swiss court on Tuesday rejected his request for release on bail, saying there was a strong risk that he would flee.

We could be heading toward an extradition if the Swiss justice system does not take into account arguments against it, lawyer Georges Kiejman said on France's Europe 1 radio.

If the procedure drags on, it is not impossible that Roman Polanski could choose to go and explain himself in the United States, where there are some arguments in his favor, he said.

U.S. authorities have until the end of November to make a firm extradition request. Judicial sources say the process could take years if Polanski challenges it.

Polanski, 76, has dual French and Polish citizenship. Swiss authorities arrested him at the request of the United States as he flew in to Zurich to accept a lifetime achievement award at a film festival.

He had pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and spent 42 days in prison having psychiatric tests.

But he fled the United States in 1978, before sentencing, fearing that the judge would overrule his plea agreement for time already served and send him to jail for 50 years.

Polanski, who had U.S. box office hits with his films Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown, went on to have a successful career in Europe, winning a best director Oscar for his 2002 Holocaust movie The Pianist.

In denying him bail, the Swiss court said Polanski would have a strong motivation to run away as a jail sentence in the United States would mean a painful separation from his French wife and their two children, aged 11 and 16.

The court also said Polanski had the financial means to flee.