09:36 PM EST Mar 24
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) - Chess legend Bobby Fischer arrived in
Iceland on Thursday, hoping to avoid deportation to the United
States by accepting an offer of citizenship from a country still
grateful for its role as the site of his most famous match.
The volatile genius landed in a jet chartered by a television
station in chess-mad Iceland, where Fischer won his world
championship victory over Russian Boris Spassky in 1972.
Speaking during his trip, Fischer said freedom felt "great"
after nine months' detention in Japan, where he had been held by
authorities for trying to leave the country using an invalid
But he had harsh words for U.S. and Japanese officials, calling
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi "mentally ill" and a
"stooge" of President George W. Bush.
"This was a kidnapping because the charges that the Japanese
charged me with are totally nonsense," Fischer said on his
flight from Tokyo to Copenhagen, Denmark, where he stopped
before travelling on to Iceland.
In the interview, he unleashed an angry diatribe against the
"The United States is an illegitimate country...just like the
bandit state of Israel - the Jews have no right to be there, it
belongs to the Palestinians," said Fischer, whose mother was
"That country, the United States, belongs to the red man, the
American Indian...It's actually a shame to be a so-called
American because everybody living there is...an invader."
Fischer, released from Japanese custody earlier Thursday, flew
from southern Sweden to his new home aboard a private jet
chartered by Iceland's Channel 2 television.
In Reykjavik, Fischer will stay at the Hotel Loftleider - the
same hotel where he stayed in 1972 when he defeated Spassky in
the Cold War chess showdown that propelled him to international
"The same suite is waiting for him," Einar Einarsson, chairman
of an Icelandic Fischer supporters' group organizing the
Fischer, 62, wanted by the United States for violating sanctions
imposed on the former Yugoslavia by playing an exhibition match
against Spassky in 1992, was detained by Japanese officials last
July for using an invalid passport.
He said his U.S. passport was revoked illegally and sued to
block a deportation order to the United States.
After a nine-month tussle between Fischer and Japanese
authorities, Iceland's legislature stepped in this week to break
the standoff by giving Fischer citizenship.
Iceland's ambassador to Japan, Thordur Oskarsson, said
Washington sent a "message of disappointment" to the Icelandic
government over giving Fischer citizenship but "the decision was
put through parliament on humanitarian grounds."
Ingvar Asmundsson, 70, a retired school principal who went to
the airport to greet Fischer, said he is "a part of Icelandic
history" and had helped put the island country on the map.
Asked what it will be like to be free, Fischer said: "Great,
However, he is by no means in the clear: Iceland, like Japan,
has an extradition treaty with the United States.
"My passport was perfectly good," he insisted on the SAS flight
"It's just my misfortune that this criminal idiot Koizumi...is a
close friend of Bush and he's willing to do anything Bush tells
him," Fischer said.
Fischer also was defiant when he arrived with his fiancee,
Miyoko Watai, at the Tokyo airport after being released from
detention. As he walked toward the airport entrance, he turned,
unzipped his pants and acted like he was going to urinate on the
He called Japan's governing party "gangsters."
"They are war criminals and should be hung," he said about Bush
In Washington, the U.S. State Department said Tuesday it
officially asked Japan to hand over Fischer, calling him a
"fugitive from justice."
Tokyo initially refused Fischer's request to go to Iceland,
saying Japanese law only allowed his deportation to the country
of his origin. But following Iceland's decision Monday, Japanese
Justice Minister Chieko Nono said officials would consider
letting Fischer go there.
Fischer became a chess icon when he dethroned Spassky, claiming
the United States' first world chess championship in more than a
But he gave up the title a few years later to another Soviet,
Anatoly Karpov, by refusing to defend it. He then fell into
obscurity before resurfacing to play the 1992 exhibition rematch
against Spassky in the former Yugoslavia.
Fischer won the rematch. But his playing violated U.S.
sanctions. If convicted, Fischer - who hasn't been to the United
States since then - could face 10 years in prison and a $250,000
A federal grand jury in Washington, meanwhile, is reported
investigating possible money-laundering charges involving
Fischer and he may face tax-related charges as well. Fischer was
reported to have received $3.5 million from the competition in
the former Yugoslavia and boasted he didn't intend to pay any
income tax on the money.