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Chess Pro to Appeal Japan's Decision to Deport Him

Bobby Fischer risks being sent to the United States, where he is wanted for defying a presidential order.

August 01, 2004|Bruce Wallace | Times Staff Writer

TOKYO — After two weeks of incarceration in an airport detention center, Bobby Fischer has agreed to hire a lawyer and will appeal the Japanese government's decision to deport him, supporters of the former world chess champion said Saturday.

Fischer has been in custody at Tokyo's Narita International Airport since July 13 for allegedly traveling on a revoked U.S. passport. He is wanted in the United States for defying a presidential order against doing business in the former Yugoslavia by playing a chess exhibition there in 1992.

Fischer contends that the passport was illegally revoked because he never received legal notification from the U.S. government.

The decision to appeal means that Fischer has not -- as reported in The Times on Friday -- told Japanese authorities he considers himself a German citizen. Supporters in Tokyo and the United States had been urging him to do so, pointing out that the chess legend is entitled to citizenship because his father, Hans Gerhardt Fischer, was a German.

On July 22, Fischer's brother-in-law Russell Targ wrote the German government stating that "Bobby wants to assert his German nationality and citizenship at this time." Targ has since provided the Tokyo-based Committee to Free Bobby Fischer with the necessary birth, marriage and death records to substantiate a claim to German citizenship.

But Fischer has been reluctant to assert German citizenship -- at least for now, his Tokyo supporters say. They say Fischer has reservations about putting his fate in the hands of the German government, which he regards as susceptible to U.S. government pressure.

Others have noted that living in Germany could pose separate legal risks to Fischer, whose website claims that the Holocaust was a hoax. Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany.

Fischer's appeals process could take anywhere from "a few days to months," his supporters said.

They added that they will file another motion to have him provisionally released from his holding cell, contending he is not a flight risk and arguing that secondhand smoke from other prisoners in the holding cells makes the 61-year-old Fischer uncomfortable.

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