Passport, ticket ready for Bobby Fischer, but he remains in Tokyo detention center
His passport is ready and he's got a plane ticket. Everything is arranged for former chess champion Bobby Fischer to avoid U.S. charges by going to Iceland except his release from a Japanese detention center, officials and supporters said Friday.
A special travel permit that would allow Fischer to travel to Western Europe is now at the Icelandic Embassy in Tokyo, waiting to be personally picked up after Fischer is released, said Icelandic Ambassador to Japan Thordur Oskarsson.
Fischer, 61, was arrested here in July for trying to board a plane to the Philippines by allegedly using an invalid U.S. passport, and has since been in custody at an immigration detention center near Tokyo. Japan, meanwhile, has issued him a deportation order to the United States.
Washington has sought Fischer, who became world chess champion in his 1972 match in Iceland against Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union, on charges of violating international sanctions against the former Yugoslavia by playing chess there in 1992.
"The passport is waiting, the plane ticket is here, the request for voluntary departure is here," said John Bosnitch of the Committee to Free Bobby Fischer. "We have all of the pieces of the pie ... and we'd like the Japanese to say it's ready to serve now."
Fischer last week formally applied for his departure for Iceland, completing all necessary conditions for him to go, his lawyer Masako Suzuki said.
Japanese immigration has not responded to the request, she said. Japanese authorities have said they have no immediate plan to approve Fischer's departure for Iceland.
Fischer's fiancee, lawyers and supporters said Japanese immigration authorities have denied their access to the former chess champion since a group of his supporters from Iceland arrived earlier this week.
"We were hoping he will be released by Wednesday," which is his 62nd birthday, said Gudmundur Thorarinsson, former member of Icelandic parliament and an organizer of the 1972 chess match. "We hoped to return to Iceland with him. We have everything ready and we don't understand what is taking so long" to release him.
Fischer's lawyers and supporters initially fought Japan's deportation order and sought his release. After Iceland's decision to accept him, they petitioned a Japanese court to free Fischer so he can go to Iceland. The case is still pending.
"In law, the conditions have now been met for Bobby's freedom. In Japanese bureaucracy, there could be some stumbling blocks that we need to clear," Bosnitch said. "But we are committed to the general belief that law will overcome bureaucracy.
Fischer has denounced the U.S. deportation order as politically motivated. He wants to renounce his U.S. citizenship and has applied while in detention in Tokyo to marry a Japanese chess official. He has baffled many with his erratic and reclusive behavior.
He disappeared from the limelight for years before the 1992 rematch. In recent years, he has emerged from silence in radio broadcasts and on his Web page to express anti-Semitic views and rail against the United States.