Chess champ’s kidnap, abuse deportation plea ignored

By Eric Tslmsdge TOKYO, AP

Japanese immigration officials have rejected former world chess champion Bobby Fischer’s appeal of their decision to deport him for attempting to travel on an invalid U.S. passport, and adviser to Fischer said Wednesday.

The decision was made Tuesday at the end of a two-day hearing, according to John Bosnitch, a Canadian journalist who acted as an adviser to Fischer during the proceedings. Fischer, who considers his detention “a kidnapping,” can appeal again, Bosnitch said.

Fischer was apprehended two weeks ago after trying to board a flight at the international airport in Narita, just outside Tokyo, for allegedly traveling with a revoked U.S. passport. Fischer is wanted in the United States for playing a chess match in the former Yugoslavia in 1992 in defiance of international sanctions.

Despite Tuesday’s decision, it was unlikely that Fischer would be deported soon.

Bosnitch said Fischer now has until Friday to lodge another appeal, this time to Japan’s justice minister. Fischer, who claims his passport was revoked without due process, can also seek a court injunction to stop the immigration proceedings altogether. Bosnitch said Fischer believes he has been “seized.”

“He considers the entire ordeal to date to be nothing more than a kidnapping, a completely illegal procedure on both the American side and the Japanese side,” Bosnitch said. “He has worked to keep himself aloof from that process and from dignifying that process.”

Bosnitch said Fischer has also requested his immediate, provisional release.

“He poses no flight risk, he has nowhere to go, he has no passport,” Bosnitch said. “There is no need for him to remain in custody.”

Immigration officials refuse to comment on the details of Fischer’s case. His hearing was closed to the media.

Bosnitch said that Fischer claimed during the hearing to have been physically mistreated.

“He hasn’t seen the sun since the day he was seized,” Bosnitch said. “He was bruised on his face, you could see welts in his arm. He is a 61-year-old man, and he claims to have been assaulted twice. He has the bruises and the cuts to prove it.”

Fischer rocketed to fame in the United States at the height of the Cold War when he defeated Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union in a series of games in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1972.

His genius for chess was quickly overshadowed by his eccentric behavior, however.

He lost his title as world champion in 1978 and then largely vanished from the public eye. Fischer reappeared to win the Yugoslavia rematch against Spassky in 1992, and took home more than US$3 million in prize money.