Bobby Fischer to seek political asylum in Japan
Tokyo — Former world chess champion Bobby Fischer has appealed Japanese plans
to deport him to the United States and hopes to find political asylum in a third
country, a friends said Wednesday.
Mr. Fischer was detained by Japanese immigration officials last week after trying to leave the country for the Philippines. Officials say his passport was invalid, and on Tuesday confirmed that he was being processed for deportation.
Mr. Fischer is wanted in the United States for playing a rematch against Soviet world champion Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia in 1992. Yugoslavia was under international sanctions at the time, and U.S. citizens were banned from doing business there.
Mr. Fischer won the match and more than $3 million in prize money.
He rocketed to fame in the United States at the height of the Cold War when he defeated Mr. Spassky in a series of games in Reykjavik in 1972.
His genius for chess was quickly overshadowed by his eccentric behaviour, however. He lost his title as world champion in 1978 and then largely vanished from the public eye.
After visiting Mr. Fischer in custody at Tokyo's Narita Airport, Miyoko Watai, of the Japan Chess Association, said Wednesday that he was appealing the deportation.
Ms. Watai, a longtime friend, said Mr. Fischer is also hoping to find political asylum in a third country. She refused to provide any further details, however.
“There is no other way,” she said. “Otherwise, he will be sent back to the United States.”
Immigration officials have refused to comment on Mr. Fischer's case, other than to confirm he was taken into custody and faces deportation. When that might happen remains unclear.