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24 March 2005


Thursday 24 March 2005 14:49
The Age (Australia)

Japan frees
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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Blogger Mamagiggle said...

Keep the fish in Ice., it's just a good idea.
It's all a symbolic ploy to open the guts and see the pearl, the ladies don't want to get their hands dirty,
The empress is in ascension.
Nowz the time to kiss with fish lips, and slush our speech.
*pop* rrrmmmm

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Don't stray far, mamagiggle, I shall have more to say about FischerJapanIcelandUSA and ten years in the federal slammer for playing chess without a license.

To say just a bit now ... I started this stuff because I find the Saga of Meltingdown Bobby both fascinating -- like a car wreck you can't turn away from -- and miserably depressing.

When I pick it up again, watch for stuff about the Jewish Fans of Ezra Pound (both of them), and Bobby's fiancee, and maybe a little bit about the Asian board game of Go. (Teach a computer how to play a reasonably sharp game of Go, win One Million US Dollars!)

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

hmmm something like this Comment may get posted twice ... i spoke to my blog, but it didn't listen.

I'VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS FISCHER/ICELAND/JAPAN THING FOR WEEKS! It's making me sick! Bobby Fischer is making me sick!

Somehow something in the Gooey Nougat Center of The World doesn't want The Outside of the World to see all the nasty details of the Saga of Melted-Down Bobby.

But it's nasty.

Anyway, stick with me, mamagiggle, and I'll be posting more about Bobby, and Japan, and Iceland, and Bobby's new fiancee, and Bobby's late-night talk radio shows from the jungle and the wet cold volcanic rock, and what he wishes for America ... oh, you don't want to know.

But I'll also be talking about the Jewish Friends of Ezra Pound (both of them), and Campbell (a historical character from "Slaughterhouse Five") and maybe P.G. Wodehouse.

Also maybe the board game called Go, and how you can make a cool million with it, right where you are, without moving an inch. (You have to trust a Taiwanese dead guy to get the money.)

Blogger A Red Mind in a Blue State said...

Japan freed Bobby Fischer, who promptly fled to Iceland.

Question-- was he able to go straight there? Did he have to travel diagonally? Did his plane have to hop two countries forward, then one to the side?

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Yo Red Mind --

I was curious about the geographical details. It seems he flew from Narita/Tokyo Airport to Copenhagen, and then a flight from Denmark to Keflavik, Iceland.

I think I saw newsfilm of his Japanese fiancee accompanying him. She was the secretary of the Japanese chess association (almost nobody plays chess in Japan) and came to Fischer's defense and acted as his spokeswoman when he was detained at Narita on the expired US passport charge on 16 July 04.

If you can find my previous post about Fischer called "Watch This Space for Breaking News", there's a link in there on a fascinating Atlantic Monthly article about Fischer's last few years.


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