Thursday 24 March 2005 14:49
The Age (Australia)
Bobby Fischer for
refuge in Iceland
Australian Associated Press -- Japan has released American chess legend Bobby Fischer and allowed him to leave for Iceland following an eight-month detention in Japan over an alleged passport violation and a fight against deportation to the United States.
Fischer, 62, who has been granted Icelandic citizenship by a special act of Iceland's parliament, is scheduled to head to Iceland on a flight from Narita airport later on Thursday.
"I'm not free until I get out of Japan," Fischer told reporters at Narita airport.
Commenting on the detention, he also said it was not "an arrest" but a "kidnapping".
Fischer, accompanied by staff of the Icelandic Embassy, headed for the airport from an immigration detention facility in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture,in an embassy car.
Fischer has been wanted by the United States since 1992 when he won about $US3 million ($A3.89 million) in a chess match against his Soviet rival Boris Spassky.
The match was held in the former Yugoslavia, where Fischer played and won the money in defiance of Washington's order barring its nationals from economic activity there.
Japan's change of heart over Fischer's deportation destination came after Iceland on Monday passed a law granting him Icelandic citizenship. The legislation came into force on Tuesday.
Fischer's lawyers and supporters have seen the citizenship issue as the last hurdle against his departure for Iceland - where he played a landmark match against Spassky in 1972 - after Japanese officials said it was legally possible for Fischer to be deported to Iceland if he had citizenship there.
Under Japanese immigration law, Fischer must be deported either to his country of national origin -- the United States -- or another country where he has citizenship.
Fischer was detained on July 13 at Narita airport for allegedly carrying an invalid US passport while trying to leave Japan on a flight bound for the Philippines. He has argued his passport was illegally revoked.
In Washington on Wednesday, a US State Department spokesman repeated an American request that Japan hand over Fischer to the United States.
"There are outstanding charges against Mr Fischer that we believe should be addressed in the United States," State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said.
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