Iceland Won't Tip Off U.S. if Bobby Fischer Travels
REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Iceland will not tip off the United States
when controversial chess champion Bobby Fischer, a former U.S.
citizen wanted for sanctions-breaking, travels abroad,
government sources said on Friday.
Fischer, who became world chess champion by beating Boris
Spassky of the Soviet Union in a classic Cold War showdown in
Reykjavik in 1972, was granted Icelandic citizenship last month.
He arrived in his new home country on March 24 after eight
months in detention in Japan fighting a U.S. deportation order.
Icelandic police said Interpol had sent them a "Red Notice"
asking for formal confirmation that Fischer had arrived in
Iceland. Interpol also requested that U.S. officials be notified
if Fischer leaves. Such information could make it easier for
U.S. authorities to apprehend him in another country.
The eccentric 62-year old is wanted by Washington for violating
sanctions against former Yugoslavia by playing a chess match
there against Spassky in 1992.
A senior Icelandic government source told Reuters it was
"unthinkable" that Reykjavik would acceed to the tip-off
request. Iceland does not monitor its citizens, the source said.
Foreign Minister David Oddsson said Fischer will not be
extradited. "We have always made it clear that the decision to
grant Mr. Fischer Icelandic citizenship is based on humanitarian
concerns," he told local daily Frettabladid.
"The U.S. is fully aware of that. We have repeatedly said that
we are not challenging them in any way."
Oddson said he does not expect the Fischer affair to hurt
relation between Washington and his North Atlantic country, a
NATO member where the United States maintains a military base.
With the Cold War over, the Keflavik base has lost much of its
strategic importance and the U.S. air force presence there has
dwindled despite strong objections from the Icelandic
government, which says the air base is vital for security.
"We consider Iceland to be a close friend to the United States
and that has not changed," said James Irvin Gadsden, U.S.
ambassador to Iceland.
"But even among friends there are sometimes disagreements and
differences of views and that is what we have here."
Oddsson is due to meet U.S. officials later this month to
discuss a bilateral defense agreement, which is under review.
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