Filmmaker Roman Polanksi was arrested at the request of the US on trying to enter Switzerland yesterday.
Mr Polanski's arrest was in connection with an arrest warrant issued by US authorities in 1978 for having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl, the Zurich Film Festival said in a statement.
The filmmaker had been due to receive a prize for his life's work at the festival this evening, kick-starting a retrospective of his film career at the festival.
He was arrested and charged with giving drugs and alcohol to a 13-year-old girl and having unlawful sex with her at a photo session at Jack Nicholson's Hollywood home in 1977.
Polanski, who maintained the girl was sexually experienced and had consented, spent 42 days in prison undergoing psychiatric tests but fled the country before being sentenced.
His US visa has since been withdrawn.
Polanski won a best director Oscar for 'The Pianist' in 2003 as well as the Cannes film festival's coveted Palme d'Or the year before.
He has also directed such film classics as 'Chinatown', 'Repulsion' and 'Rosemary's Baby'.
In August 1969, Polanski's wife, actress Sharon Tate, and six others, were murdered by followers of cult leader Charles Manson at his Hollywood home in a random attack.