• The Associated Press


An American civil rights lawyer hired to breathe new life into chess legend Bobby Fischer’s efforts to fight deportation to the United States accused U.S. officials on Monday of “grotesque” abuse of their powers and threatened to take the case to the Supreme Court.

Richard Vattuone accused Washington of persecuting Fischer for his political views, refusing to observe due process in the revocation of his U.S. passport and ignoring objections over the legality of its moves to have him deported.

U.S. Embassy officials denied Fischer was being treated unfairly.

Fischer, who has been in Japanese custody since he was detained at Narita airport in July, is wanted in the United States for allegedly violating international sanctions by playing a chess match against rival Boris Spassky in the former Yugoslavia in 1992.

According to the charges, Fischer won $3.5 million in prize money from the match.

Fischer’s supporters have argued that the eccentric former world champion is being hounded by Washington for remarks he made indicating support for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States and for his outspoken criticism of President George W. Bush.

“Bobby Fischer is not a murderer, not a robber, not a thief,” Vattuone said. “All he did was play chess.”

Vattuone, a new addition to Fischer’s defense team, repeated previous claims that Fischer was not given prior notice of the revocation of his passport, thus making it impossible for him to contest the decision. He also said that U.S. State Department officials went ahead with a hearing last Friday despite objections raised by Fischer’s supporters that, among other things, he had not had enough time to prepare his defense.

“There are some grotesque abuses of governmental power, due process, human rights,” Vattuone told a news conference. “I would say this is an utter waste of U.S. taxpayer money.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.