The Justice Ministry rejected former chess champion Bobby Fischer’s request for protection as a political refugee Tuesday and issued an order to deport him.
Fischer, detained since July 13 for attempting to travel on an invalid U.S. passport, quickly appealed the decision, and his supporters said he would not be deported immediately.
The former chess great is wanted in the United States for violating international sanctions against the former Yugoslavia in 1992, though he claims that the charges against him are politically motivated.
The Justice Ministry would not release a timetable for Fischer’s deportation, but ministry official Hideharu Maruyama said Fischer would most likely be sent to the United States.
“The justice minister’s judgment was that there was no justification for Fischer’s appeal,” Maruyama said.
Fischer’s lawyers said they had already filed suit in Tokyo District Court demanding that the order be canceled and requesting an injunction to halt deportation proceedings.
His supporters said that Fischer’s attorney, Masako Suzuki, told them the court typically takes about one month to consider the written request for an injunction on the deportation process.
The chess player’s backers said that immigration officials had planned to deport him later Tuesday, but that legal maneuvers made on Fischer’s behalf had apparently stalled the plans.
“We managed to nip in the bud this fly-by-night effort to deport Bobby without due process,” said John Bosnitch, a Tokyo-based adviser to Fischer.
The deportation order is the latest development in Fischer’s legal wrangle with Japanese authorities. In addition to appealing for asylum, Fischer has attempted to renounce his U.S. citizenship and announced plans to marry a Japanese woman.
Bosnitch accused the U.S. government of pressuring Japanese officials to speed up proceedings against Fischer but said that would be much more difficult when the case moves to a courtroom.
“The court will now consider the request for the injunction. If that’s granted, then nothing can happen,” he said. “That’s our desire, to effectively put the stopper in this bottle.”
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