Friday, March 11, 2005

Fischer poser


If you do not believe how much trouble a single hard-boiled egg can cause, you just need to ask former world chess champion, Bobby Fischer, about it. That is, if you ever get to meet this chess hero in person.

Fischer, however, is still languishing in a Japanese jail, awaiting deportation to the United States where he faces federal charges of violating sanctions against the former Yugoslavia when he chose to play a chess match there with Boris Spassky in 1992.

He was nabbed eight months ago by Japanese immigration officials when he was leaving Japan and his American passport was seized and revoked by the American embassy in Japan. But Fischer proved to be a tougher nut than the Americans or the Japanese could reckon.

Firstly, he promptly renounced his American citizenship in an effort to delay the deportation. Secondly, Fischer had the unwavering support of his fiancée Miyoko Watai who had stood steadfastly by him during these eight months. And thirdly, his loyal legion of fans worldwide launched a campaign to have him freed. After all, they argued, what could the American Government hope to achieve by arresting the apparently harmless but eccentric Fischer?

Fischer certainly had friends in high places around the world and Iceland was one country that rallied to his aid. To the Icelandic people, Fischer was their hero because of his celebrated chess match against Spassky in Reykjavik in 1972. But short of offering him Icelandic citizenship, the Icelandic government approved a special foreigner’s passport for Fischer which would have allowed him to leave Japan and travel around freely in most parts of Europe. Iceland even sent two groups of official representatives to escort Fischer out of Japan.

It would have been a satisfying end to this saga but for the fact that the Japanese Government still refused to let Fischer go. Instead, he ended up being placed in solitary confinement.

Fischer would have been 62 years old two days ago. His supporters had hoped that he would be freed before then, but at this point of writing, it looked very unlikely. Rather, if Fischer is not freed by today, he has instructed his supporters and lawyers to sue the Japanese Ministry of Justice and Immigration Bureau.

According to his lead lawyer, Masako Suzuki, there are no legal grounds to detain Fischer further. However, the Japanese immigration has refused to say anything and their only argument was that Iceland’s invitation to Fischer was irrelevant to his case."

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