Chess legend Fischer says, You can't extradite me, I'm German
Fischer is being held at Tokyo's Narita International Airport, where Japanese immigration officials seized him — after a rough struggle, they acknowledge — July 13 as he tried to leave Japan for the Philippines. The Japanese government ruled Tuesday it would deport Fischer for entering the country last April without a valid passport.
The U.S. canceled Fischer's U.S. passport in December 2003 on the grounds the one-time world chess champion is a fugitive. He is wanted for defying an order by the first President Bush against traveling to the disintegrating Yugoslavia in 1992 to play a $5 million chess exhibition against Cold War-era rival Boris Spassky.
Fischer claims he never received notification that his passport had been revoked. He is almost certain to appeal the Japanese government deportation order before its deadline at midnight tonight, friends here said.
Meanwhile, speaking through a loosely organized committee of about 20 chess-playing supporters in Tokyo yesterday, Fischer launched a countermove against the Japanese government. Noting that his father, Hans Gerhardt Fischer, was born in Berlin in 1908, Fischer said he is a German citizen, entitled to a German passport.
Under German law, anyone born before 1975 to a German father who was married at the time can become a citizen.
Significantly in Fischer's case, Germany's extradition treaties do not allow its citizens to be deported to face charges in other countries, German officials in Tokyo said.
The charges against Fischer stem from the exhibition match held on the 20th anniversary of his historic encounter with Spassky — after which he disappeared from the public stage. The rematch in Yugoslavia, which Fischer also won, marked his first and last return to international competition.
Since then, the man many regard as the most daring and creative chess player ever, has lived reclusively and traveled almost constantly — from Japan to Hong Kong, Hungary and Austria over the past four years.