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Japan Won't Deport Fischer Anytime Soon

August 25, 2004|From Times Wire Services

TOKYO — Japan ordered former chess champion Bobby Fischer deported Tuesday, but he got a temporary reprieve when his lawyers filed suit to block the move.

Immigration office spokesman Itsuo Noto said today that the deportation "should take a little while."

Fischer's legal team said that it should take about a month for the case to go before a judge and that the lawsuit could take up to a year if it proceeded.

Immigration authorities at Fischer's detention center north of Tokyo told him Tuesday that Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa had decided to expel him and had rejected his application for political asylum.

"The ministry rejected Bobby Fischer's demand for protection as a political refugee, saying that charges outstanding against him in the United States are not political in nature," John Bosnitch, a Tokyo-based Canadian consultant advising Fischer, said in a statement.

Justice Ministry official Hideharu Maruyama said Fischer probably would be sent to the United States, where he faces charges of violating United Nations sanctions against the former Yugoslavia by playing a 1992 chess match there.

Japan detained Fischer on July 13, saying he was trying to board a plane for the Philippines with a revoked U.S. passport.

Fischer's legal team accused Nozawa of relying heavily on advice from the U.S. government and embassy.

The team also criticized Tokyo for rejecting Fischer's asylum application only 20 days after it was submitted.

"This raises serious doubts about the fairness and neutrality," lawyer Masako Suzuki said in a statement.

Fischer rose to chess stardom by defeating Boris Spassky, formerly of the Soviet Union, in 1972 to become world champion.

He became increasingly erratic and reclusive, however, and forfeited his title in 1975.

The 1992 match that brought the U.S. charges was a rematch against Spassky. Fischer won again and collected more than $3 million in prize money.

He has tried a number of maneuvers to thwart his deportation. Fischer, 61, at first said he would renounce his U.S. citizenship.

He then got engaged to the head of the Japan Chess Assn., a Japanese woman who said they had been living together for four years.

U.S. officials suggested that they would pursue a case against Fischer even if he renounced his citizenship.

A U.S. official in Tokyo, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, "Nationality does not affect a federal warrant."

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