National

Supporters seek asylum for chess legend Fischer in Germany

Supporters of fugitive chess legend Bobby Fischer said Thursday in Tokyo that they are asking several nations, including Germany, to offer the American political asylum.

John Bosnitch, head of the Committee to Free Bobby Fischer, told a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan that Germany may be able to grant Fischer citizenship and issue him a passport because his father was a German citizen.

Fischer, 61, was detained on July 13 after trying to board a flight to the Philippines at Narita International Airport. He was traveling with a revoked U.S. passport.

He is wanted in the United States for violating NATO economic sanctions against the former Yugoslavia, imposed over the conflict in Bosnia Herzegovina, when he defied authorities and went there in 1992 to play a chess match with Boris Spassky.

But Bosnitch, a Canadian communications consultant who lives in Japan and has met Fischer in detention several times, said the former world chess champion claims his passport was valid when he tried to leave Japan.

He added that Fischer received additional pages for his passport, issued in 1997, from the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, in November, after it became full.

In addition, Fischer said he did not receive any letter from the U.S. government stating that his passport had been revoked, Bosnitch said.

The support group said it plans to file a lawsuit against the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau, maintaining that its confiscation of Fischer’s passport is invalid.

On Wednesday, Fischer filed for provisional release, with Ichiji Ishii, a former House of Councilors member and a friend acting as a guarantor if he is granted bail.

Fischer, who in 1972 became the first American to win the world chess championship, has been in and out of Japan since 2000, according to Miyoko Watai, president of the Japan Chess Association. Watai first got to know Fischer in 1973.

While in Japan, he gave advice to clock maker Seiko Corp. on developing a new chess clock for the association and was developing new chess tactics, according to Watai and Ishii.

Fischer liked being in Japan because he could walk around without being recognized, as chess is not so popular here, Watai said.

Bosnitch said the group will work to defend Fischer’s human and legal rights in his deportation process, prepare for a legal battle to challenge “what is evidently an unjust and unlawful deportation process thus far,” and drum up worldwide support for the chess master’s cause.

“This battle that we started here will not end here. It will continue until Bobby Fischer walks free with a passport legally and continues to enjoy his life,” he said.

Coronavirus banner